Universalizing Words and the Strongs

STRONGS CONCORDANCE - Universalizing Words

Obviously, the current subject in my circle is about prophets and prophesying. A friend made a post on Facebook asking why people can not tell the difference between the gift of prophecy and prophesying. People commented and noticed some kind of difference in prophesying in some texts versus other texts. So, this presented a grand opportunity to talk about word universalizing and the Strongs Concordance.

Part of the problem with not understanding what prophesying means is the same problem that we tend to have with many portions of the Bible, we universalize a word. For example, if I were to use the word "satan" what would you think? You would think of the angel who sinned against God and to whom God cast out. That's why so many people think that Jesus called Peter this fallen angel (Matt 16:23). The fact is, the word satan was a common first-century word that merely meant "enemy". What we've done in the church is turned a translation of a Greek word into a word in our Christianeze language and we now associate the word only with the fallen angel.

The same thing has happened to the word prophecy. We've been raised and taught to believe that prophecy can only mean a revelation of what God, or the Spirit of God, has revealed to a person through supernatural means (i.e. thus says the Lord.., foretelling future events, etc.).

It's possible that many reading this have gone to the strongs concordance and looked at the definition but that too is an error. The stongs is a CONCORDANCE and not an exhaustive dictionary. The definitions within the strongs have merely given the ways the Greek or Hebrew word was used in other portions of text. While Strong's Concordance gives a gloss for each lemma, this is not the main purpose of a concordance and as such should not be used as a lexicon nor as a dictionary.

A lexicon gives an inventory of all of the lexemes in a given language (Hence the name LEXICON) but the Strong's Concordance is based only on a specific English translation. Hebrew-English, Aramaic-English, and Greek-English lexicons also function as dictionaries in that they define lexemes from the original language using English words that best capture their meaning, explaining any relevant grammatical features that impact their translation.

Let me give you an example of the problem of leaving out lexemes in any particular language: Look at the following sentence

That was a bear

Was the person talking about a big furry animal or describing the difficulty of a task? The 'gloss' definition here is ambiguous and gives us no help disambiguating the meaning in this context. Grammatical features should also be examined, which the Strong's Concordance offers no help with.

So, when we go to a Greek lexicon to look at the Greek word used for "prophesy" we find these definitions and where the definition was used in the text:

a. universally, Matthew 7:22.

b. with the idea of foretelling future events pertaining especially to the kingdom of God: Matthew 11:13; Acts 2:17, 18; Acts 21:9; Matthew 15:7; Mark 7:6; 1 Peter 1:10; Revelation 10:11

c. to utter forth, declare, a thing which can only be known by divine revelation: Matthew 26:68; Mark 14:65; Luke 22:64; John 4:19.

d. to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or in praise of the divine counsels: Luke 1:67; Acts 19:6 (1 Samuel 10:10, 11; 1 Samuel 19:20, 21, etc.); — or, under the like prompting, to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others: 1 Corinthians 11:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 13:9; 1 Corinthians 14:1, 3, 4, 5, 24, 31, 39.

e. to act as a prophet, discharge the prophetic office: Revelation 11:3.

In conclusion, we are in error to universalize the word to mean one thing as in a message straight from God and a concordance gives no real help in the meaning of a word in a particular case. Based on the Greek-English Lexicon, category D establishes prophecying means a sudden outburst of praise toward God. It also establishes a sudden need to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, or comfort others.

This is the area that ALL Christians will act in prophecy and the ones who God chooses to be prophets, they prophesy under the definition of categories B and C as well as D.

As a further note: I have a 1599 Geneva Bible that I just love to go to. The reason I enjoy this Bible is the translators of the Bible, translating from the Hebrew and Greek critical text, admitted that translating from one language to another is difficult because the meaning of words is lost. All my African friends know this. I've heard you struggle to find the English word and often have to explain in greater detail so that we American's can fully understand. Because of the difficulty they had, this Bible is full of study notes STRAIGHT FROM THE TRANSLATORS OF THE BIBLE that further explain what they were seeing in a word or statement.

I went to 1 Thess 5:20 "Do not treat prophecies with contempt" and here are the notes of the people who translated the Bible:

Despise not {g} prophesyings.
(g) The explaining and interpreting of the word of God.

Interesting how we can get our minds locked into one definition and how that changes the meaning so drastically.