Word Study #1 Pneuma
First Words of Warning
Before I start, I want to mention some caveats based on what I saw after writing my introductory post.
Pneuma is an excellent example of why you should understand the context of the verse in question and both translated and original words. It is easy to try to lump them together. Amplified Bible gives you many possible meanings but no context as the correct one for a given passage. The online dictionaries are better but again don't provide all the possible senses. This is again why I think Paper dictionaries are better in this case. When you understand the context, you can make more educated inferences if the verses in which the word used is not listed as examples of any definition.
Don't let anyone pull the semantic wool over your eyes.
False teachers or those not well versed with the original words may try to give the word a non-existent meaning or classification. I heard this with ekteino as used in the story about a man with a withered hand in Mark 3. Attempting to prove that Jesus literally time-traveled to heal Katie Souza gave ekteino a non-existent temporal connotation. You can listen to the painful and purposeful twisting in John Elving's critique of one of her TVthe starting when she provides the passage's background at the 7:47 mark to 8:03 when she explains the supposed meaning.
. It is a verb, no more, no less. Ek- means out teino too stretch. In other words, it means to stretch out, or in the case of this passage quoted, extend. The only temporal aspect would be the tense used where it is mentioned. It d I said that grammatical knowledge is not always necessary for word study itself, but it is helpful in these instances.
Okay, now that I got those warning out of the way, on to the topic of this post.
This video below reminded me of a misinterpretation that has bothered me for a while. What does Paul mean by spirit of fear in2 Timothy 1:7? Is talking literally or figuratively? So I am going to look at the word pneuma today broadly and then in this verse.
Based on this, many people treat fear as a literal spirit that can be exorcised. While it is genuine fear is limiting, this ultimately faulty intepretation is discouraging for the anxious. The word for spirit in the passage is multifaceted. Unlike words for death, life and love, it covers a variety of contexts. Pneuma is from the phrase pneo, meaning to breathe. The Holy Spirit in various contexts and events is the primary usage of the word.
It can also mean breath or gust of wind which makes its use in John 3 interesting. We see pneuma along with the inflected form pneumatos in 3: 8 about the Holy Spirit and the wind as a metaphor for the Spirits regenerative work within a person. Pneuma can also refer to the immediate result of the Spirit's working, which adds extra meaning to the wind metaphor. The song title Breath of Heaven may have also come from this.
The meaning in 2 Timothy 1:7 is a particular disposition. It is a state of mind control by fear, not being possessed by a demon that causes you to fear. A clearer, more modern rendering might read as follows. God doesn't give us a fearful disposition or make us prone to worry if we want to go thought for thought.