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Elders πρεσβύτεροι

(867 words)

Author(s): J. Reiling
I. Name The noun presbyteros, usually meaning ‘older’, or in a technical sense ‘elder’ (Jewish) or ‘presbyter’ (Christian), occurs 12 times in Rev referring to beings in heaven. They are always identified as ‘the twenty-four elders’. II. Identity Twenty-four elders appear for the first time in the vision of heaven in chap. 4 and are described as sitting on 24 thrones situated around the throne of God, dressed in white garments and with golden crowns on their heads (4.4). Also around the throne, probably in the area between the thron…

Paraclete Παράκλητος

(728 words)

Author(s): J. Reiling
I. Name Paraclete occurs in the Gospel of John as a name, or an epithet of the Holy Spirit, and in 1 John as a title of Jesus Christ. Paraklētos is a verbal adjective of parakaleō. In common Greek usage it means ‘called to one’s aid’, ‘summoned’, and as a substantive ‘legal assistant, advocate’, or, in a more general sense, ‘intercessor’. The reference is nearly almost to human persons, not to divine beings. II. Identity In John 14–16 the name Paraclete occurs four times ( John 14.16–17, John 26; John 15.26; John 16.7–14). In John 14.6 Jesus announces the coming of ‘another Paraclete’;…

Melchizedek Μελχιζεδεκ

(2,198 words)

Author(s): J. Reiling
I. Name The name of Melchizedek appears twice in the OT, viz. Gen. 14.18 and Ps. 110.4, and eight times in the NT, viz. Hebrews (where Ps. 110.4 is quoted or alluded to five times). The meaning of the name is either ‘my king is righteousness’ or ‘my king is Zedek’; probably ‘king’ refers to a deity and ‘righteousness’ is a divine attribute or ‘Zedek’ is the name of the deity (cf. malkîʾēl, Gen. 46.17; Num. 26.45; 1 Chr. 7.31; and malkîyâ, e.g. Jer. 21.1). It is a theophoric name. Outside the Bible the name of Melchizedek plays an important part in Jewish and Christian sour…

Holy Spirit πνεῦμα ἅγιον

(4,290 words)

Author(s): J. Reiling
I. Name The expression ‘holy spirit’ occurs only three times in the OT ( Ps. 51.13; Isa. 63.10, Isa. 11) but is part of a large semantic field in which rûaḥ, referring to some form of divine action, is the central component (about 250 times in the OT). In the NT the expression occurs 84 times whereas pneuma, referring to the divine spirit (with or without attributes), occurs about 350 times. Within the Bible neither rûaḥ nor pneuma are used as a divine name. They are not worshipped as divine beings. The religious use of the words derives from general, non-religious u…

Unclean Spirits πνεύματα ἀκάθαρτα

(412 words)

Author(s): J. Reiling
I. Name ‘Unclean spirit’ occurs only once in the OT ( Zech. 13.2 rûaḥ haṭṭumʾâ, lit. ‘the spirit of impurity’) and 21 times in the NT in both singular and plural. It is found only in the synoptic gospels and Acts and twice in Rev. The related phrase ‘evil spirit’ ( pneuma ponēron) occurs in the OT (Evil spirit of God) and eight times in the NT. Often the noun daimonion is used synonymously (see below and Demon). II. Identity The belief in supernatural non-corporeal beings considered not to be gods and affecting the life of corporeal beings (men and animals) is widespr…