Sunday, July 15, 2007

What does the New Testament teach us when using the word επιθυμια?

A friend of mine looked at my desk and saw some NT Greek vocabulary cards and the word on top was the word for ''lust, passion, desire', επιθυμια. He was wondering why the New Testament used this word. So this study is a response to his question.

This is a study is a quick look at what the New Testament teaches when using the word επιθυμια. It does not intend to address syntactical issues or various uses of the word. The word does not always mean something negative, sometimes it expresses a positive desire such as accompanies friendships.

Mark 4:19:
19but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Desire chokes out the Word of God when it is heard.



Luke 22:15:
15And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Simply Jesus explaining how he earnestly desires to share this celebration of the Passover with his friends, disciples before he suffers.



John 8:44:
44You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: A person’s desires are dependant upon who he is following, God or the devil.


Romans 1:24:
24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The idea here is that having ungodly desires is actually a permissive punishment.


Romans 6:12:
12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: When someone is living a life obedient to sinning, they are obeying passions.



Romans 7:7:
7What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
Romans 7:8:
8But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Here Paul is quoting the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, which says, “do not covet”. Paul probably is quoting this one because even if one is a stickler for following the externals of the Law, this one helps each of us examine our heart. He does this not so that we all feel guilty but so that we focus our attention to the state of our heart.


Romans 13:14:
14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: There is a contrast between our union with Christ and following our desires.


Galatians 5:16:
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: There is a contrast between walking in the Spirit and following our desires.


Galatians 5:24:
24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: There is a contrast between union with Christ and following our desires.


Ephesians 2:3:
3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Ephesians 4:22:
22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: There is a contrast between the old life of living according to lusts, desires and living for Christ.


Philippians 1:23:
23I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Paul is now torn between dying when he would be in the presence of Christ and living to serve Christ here on earth.


Colossians 3:5:
5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The Christian should not live in lust.


I Thessalonians 2:17:
17But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Paul was a close friend with the Thessalonians believers.


I Thessalonians 4:5:
5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Living according to lust is a mark of someone who does not know God.


I Timothy 6:9:
9But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Lust for money can be damaging.


II Timothy 2:22:
22So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Young people have particularly open to certain lusts that are to be avoided.


II Timothy 3:6:
6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Some false teachers draw people away to themselves by enflaming their passions.


II Timothy 4:3:
3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: People often like to follow the teachings that suit their own passions. Some pastors like to preach on marriage because it allows them to discuss sex.


Titus 2:12:
12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Self-control is contrasted with living according to worldly passions.


Titus 3:3:
3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Living according to our lusts is enslaving.



James 1:14:
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Temptation comes from within. When I sin it is not someone else’s fault but my own.



James 1:15:
15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Self-control is contrasted with living according to worldly passions.


I Peter 1:14:
14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Obedience to God is contrasted with living according to our lusts.



I Peter 2:11:
11Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: It is foreign to this world to live not by our passions.


I Peter 4:2:
2so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: We should use our days and hours for God’s will not our lusts.


I Peter 4:3:
3The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The non-Jews of those days plunged into their own sensuality.


II Peter 1:4:
4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The cause of sin and corruption is sinful desire.


II Peter 2:10:
10and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones,

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Lusts are often accompanied with arrogance.


II Peter 2:18:
18For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: False teaches sometimes enflame our passions.


II Peter 3:3:
3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Lusts are often accompanied by scoffing arrogance.


I John 2:16:
16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Ours lusts to do not originate with God in a primary sense.


I John 2:17:
17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: Our lusts are temporary but God’s will is eternal.


Jude 1:16:
16These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: The character of these evil people is that they follow their lusts.


Jude 1:18:
18They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: A prophetic word that following one’s own lusts will be prevalent in the end times.


Revelation of John 18:14:
14“The fruit for which your soul longed has gone from you, and all your delicacies and your splendors are lost to you, never to be found again!”

Explanation of how επιθυμια is being used in the teaching: This is speaking about Babylon, but in this passage it means this world’s system in contrast to those who know and follow God. The teaching here is that this world’s system is characterized by following one’s own desires.



Credits: This study was done using The Sword Project and the quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible. The Sword Project is some really good free software that I would encourage you to use. The ESV is a good translation that merits a good read.
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