Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 18 Number 4 April 2016
Page 16

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to editor@gospelgazette.com

Parbole versus Paroima

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis RushmoreI am a church member of Hiroshima Baptist Church, Hiroshima, Japan. I would be very happy if you would be kind enough to reply the following question: (1) Why did John use the Greek word “paroima” and not the word “parabole”? (2)What is the difference between the two words? Sincerely yours, Makoto Watanabe

The King James Version (KJV) uses the English word “parable” for the Greek “paroima” in John 10:6. The New King James Version (NKJV) translates the Greek word instead as “illustration.” The Greek definition for “paroima” is similar to the Greek word “parabole,” which is most often translated as “parable;” “parabole” is translated once as “comparison” (Mark 4:30 KJV), once as “proverb” (Luke 4:23 KJV, NKJV), once as “figure” in  Hebrews 9:9 (KJV) or “symbolic” (NKJV) and once as “figure” (Hebrews 11:19 KJV, NKJV). “Paroima” appears a total of five times in four New Testament verses (John 10:6; 16:25 [twice], 29; 2 Peter 2:22). The KJV translates it as “proverb” in John 16 and 2 Peter 2:22; the NKJV renders the Greek into English as “figurative language” (John 16:25) and “figure of speech” (John 16:29).

Both “parabole” and “paroima” are compound words, both using the Greek preposition “para,” which means “beside.” The Greek “bole,” the second word in the compound word “parabole,” means to cast or to throw. Hence, “parabole” from which comes the English word “parable” means throwing or placing two things alongside of each other. Jesus did this in His parables for the purpose of comparison. From knowledge of the familiar, when compared with the unfamiliar, a person learns something about the unfamiliar. Jesus Christ used parables as earthly stories (items and circumstances of which people are commonly aware) to teach heavenly truths (about which otherwise mortals knew little or nothing).

The second Greek word in the compound word “paroima” is a form of the Greek word “oimos,” which means a “wayside saying.” Hence, “paroima” is equivalent to throwing or placing something alongside of a wayside saying. Like “parabole,” “paroima” also calls for a comparison. The words are synonyms for each other, and there may be several reasons for which the different words were used.

Jesus Christ had just taught about the distinction between a true shepherd of the sheep versus an imposter. He did not refer to an actual happening in particular, and evidently, neither was he referring to a common practice of imposters attempting to lead away sheep; it was not a workable proposition for one to lead away a shepherd’s sheep by calling to them. Our Lord, simply put, used an illustration to emphasize His message.

This indicates the subtle difference in meaning between the words “parabole” and “paroima.” The former refers to events that either did happen or could have happened, whereas the latter word may be allegorical, not referring to real or likely events. Some commentators argue that there is not a real parable in the Gospel according to John, at least by narrow definitions of what constitutes a parable. For sure, though, “parabole” and “paroima” both refer to figurative language for the same purposes.

Consider also that the Holy Spirit used the vocabularies of the respective persons through whom He inspired with a message of divine origin. That alone could account for the differences in word choices, besides the slightly different types of figurative speech used between Matthew, Mark and Luke versus John.

Furthermore, each of the Gospel records was composed for a different audience. Therefore, the Holy Spirit may have elected to use a word in the Gospel according to John that would be better suited for the universal audience for whom that Gospel record was composed.

In any case, it is more important to examine the divinely inspired messages in the Gospel records than to be overly concerned about minor variances in vocabularies between them. The first three Gospel records as well as the Gospel according to John all use figurative language, irrespective of whether we call them parables, figures, comparisons or proverbs. Each of them illustrate the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ to heighten one’s understanding.


Louis Rushmore, Editor

Hello, Sir. …am from Nigeria worshipping in Church of Christ. … How can I fine a right one without dating? Please, Sir help with scriptural portion.

A dictionary definition for “dating” is “to go out socially.” Cultures differ around the world regarding marriage. Some cultures still practice wholly or partially arranged marriages where the couple to wed may not know each other or may have not even met each other prior to the wedding. A modification to arranged marriages is that in some cultures presently either candidate for marriage may decline the particular arrangement. Arranged marriages have for centuries preserved tribal, clan or family cultural norms and values. From observation, arranged marriages appear to be as successful or even more so than marriages that are not arranged by the families of those marrying. Affection and love in many arranged marriages is no less than that in non-arranged marriages. Arranged marriages have a predisposition to permanence by the acknowledgement of the parties being married, and the spouses learn to love each other and work together for the good of the immediate as well as the extended family.

In much of the world, though, marriage partners each choose to marry the other. This occurs after social interaction where the parties come to know and appreciate each other. Love or physical attraction occurs prior to marriage and becomes the basis of entering into marriage. This social interaction is what dictionaries call “dating.” However, dating or social interaction must be morally pure for God to approve of it. Unfortunately, much of what passes for “dating” in contemporary times involves drinking alcohol or taking drugs (Galatians 5:21), dancing (Galatians 5:21), unchaste behavior (2 Timothy 3:6) and fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18), all of which is contrary to God’s Holy Word.

Cultural norms in various parts of the world will affect one’s preparation for and entering into marriage. Aside from what culture may dictate regarding preparation for and entering into marriage, especially Christians need to be aware of their biblical responsibility to remain morally pure. “…keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22).

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