In our previous interpretation tidbits we looked at temptation in 1 Cor. 10:13 and appealed to James 1. Knowing some Greek can provide even more insight. So let’s look at the Greek words behind ‘temptation’, ‘tempted’.
13 “No temptation [Greek: peirasmos] has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted [Greek: peirasthēnai] beyond your strength, but with the temptation [Greek: peirasmō] will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (RSV).
You should notice the similarity of the first 5 letters of each of the Greek words, these would be called the root of the words, and so their relatedness or similarity in basic meaning (even though one is a noun and the other a verb). The basic meaning of the peiras root is = test designed toward failure of the one tested/tempted. This is obviously the devil’s plan for us in temptation.
Let’s look now on James1:2 (RSV): “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials [ Greek: peirasmois[.” Before you respond as I did ages ago thinking that James is half-crazy ponder v.3 with me.
3 “for you know that the testing [Greek: dokimion] of your faith produces steadfastness.”
Here James uses a different Greek root for ‘testing’, this dokim root is testing/trial designed to prove mettle or calibre as we find in the testing of newly constructed roadways or bridges to ensure their ability to take traffic of a certain maximum weight. As he expands on his teaching about temptation/testing his wisdom becomes clearer.
Notice now the root words in verses12-15: 12 “Blessed is the man who endures trial [Greek: peirasmon], for when he has stood the test [Greek: dokimos] he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted [ Greek:peiradzomenos] , “I am tempted [Greek: peiradzomai] by God”; for God cannot be tempted [Greek: apeirastos] with evil and he himself tempts [Greek: peiradzei] no one; 14 but each person is tempted [Greek: peiradzetai] when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.” Do not be put off by the dz aspects of some of the peiras root words, these are grammatical requirements of the present tense verb forms.In our next tidbit I’ll mention some implications of the reasoning in verses 12-15.
My new course Bible Made Simple teaches truth seekers how to make sense of difficult passages of scripture. Click to enroll now!
Want to deepen and accelerate your understanding of the New Testament in its original language? Click here to learn when you can join the next cohort for New Testament Greek classes.