Tonight, I want us to study a single word in the NT: proskartereo. It looks and sounds like a perfect candidate for use in a Jeopardy category: “twelve-letter Greek words that are difficult to pronounce”!
This word caught my attention as I ran across it at various times over the years in my studies of the NT in Greek, and I thought its various occurrences and uses rather interesting.
It is a compound word, composed of the preposition pros, which means, “to, toward, in the direction of” and kartereo, a verb with the root idea of “to be strong, firm.” So it literally means “to be strong toward something or someone.” As used in the NT, the word carries the sense and meaning “to be devoted to, to be dedicated to, to focus on, to be committed to, to persist in” some purpose, object or person.
This word is used ten times in the Greek NT, six of which occur in Acts. I want to briefly note each of these uses.
Reprinted with permission from Baptist Bulletin July/August 2012. All rights reserved.
Chaplain Stan Beach was not supposed to be here, not climbing up the narrow trail toward Nui Cay Tri Ridge near Vietnam’s Demilitarized Zone.
Four months earlier, the Navy had given him orders to report to the South Pole. It would have been a cold, quiet way to spend 1966, a nice place to wait out the war. But after the chaplain from Cass City, Mich., received his papers, he had petitioned the Navy for a transfer—to Vietnam.
Now he was walking toward another no-name hill in the jungle, a place the Marines called “Mutter’s Ridge” in their radio call-signs. The southern boundary of the DMZ was marked by an east-west line of mountains, Razorbacks, named for crests that might only be 15 yards wide. Tough territory to defend. And the trail, the only way up, was an obvious target.
The Marines pass by a bloody fatigue jacket, then a skull impaled on a stake. Having fought for this real estate before, they were now challenged by reinfiltration. The North Vietnamese Army was somewhere, everywhere, dug in and hiding.
Interpretation of Scripture, followed by right application, is the primary way that we are to be like God. This is not an issue of education. It’s an issue of imitation. (p. 23)
There are seasons in life where you learn to just hang on for the ride. My family’s in one of them now.
For several weeks, we’ve been in the middle of preparing for an interstate move (with husband there and me here), trying to find the “perfect” house (which apparently doesn’t exist), finishing all the end of school year activities for two kids, and trying to occasionally write interesting blog posts (although at this point I’d settle for adequate). And through it all, the one major take away has been learning that human beings were not intended to subsist on six hours of sleep a night, diet coke, and chocolate.
I confess I’m pretty much an idealist. In my world, if I want something badly enough, if I work hard enough, and if I just commit to making sure it happens, it will. Food, sleep, rest? What are those? They’re simply props for the weak. And yet, what I’m discovering—once again even after several decades on this planet—is my own weakness. I’m learning about my inability to do it all, how quickly stress affects every part of me and my tendency to be really mean when I’m overwhelmed.
But thankfully, this week I re-learned something even more important.
I have always thought of jealous adults as childish. But as I thought more and more about matters, I came to realize that many of the sins we see so clearly in childhood carry over into adulthood. We simply learn to hide them better. For many of us, the weaknesses and sins we displayed in childhood are still with us: jealousy, laziness, a critical spirit, fits of temper, etc.
The other day, I was teaching our AWANA kids about how Laban was jealous of Jacob. God blessed Laban with wealth (in those days, measured in livestock). Jacob, who started raising livestock with Laban’s rejects, began to catch up to and surpass Laban (Genesis 30-31). Laban and his sons became so jealous that Jacob and his family had to escape for their lives. Had God not warned Laban in a dream, he may well have killed Jacob.
Johann Strauss Sr. was a musical genius, but he envied his son, Johan Strauss Jr., who surpassed him in genius and fame. When we speak of the “Strauss Waltzes,” we are usually talking about the work of Johann Jr. Time and time again we hear stories of parents jealous of their children’s talents, beauty, or “breaks in life.” I am among those who want my children to have everything so that I can move in with them!
Even those of us in ministry get jealous. Like something out of Ecclesiastes, I hear of ungodly pastors whose churches grow leaps and bounds. Some of these guys don’t know Genesis from Revelation and are professional manipulators, yet their churches blossom. In contrast, I sometimes notice faithful pastors who love the Lord yet see their churches dissolve. Of course jealousy over a good man whose ministry blossoms is tempting, too.