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Greek Word Study - Example

He left no estate. He left no possessions. He had built no monuments to be remembered by. One thing He did leave, however, was an example.

“Christ suffered for your sake, leaving behind an example for you, that you might follow in His footsteps” (1 Pet 2:21).

The Greek word for example is hypogrammos (hoo poh grah MOS). It is used only in this place in all the Bible, but its use outside the Bible sheds real light on this verse.

When Greek schoolboys were taught to write they did not practice on parchment or papyrus, for these were far too expensive. Instead, they each had a wax tablet. This was a shallow wooden tray filled with soft wax. The writing was done with a pointed stylus, and when one assignment was done, the whole thing could be smoothed over and used again.

The teacher would carefully write letter forms across the top and draw a straight line across the bottom for the pupil to write on. Sometimes the pupil would be encouraged to put his stylus in the grooves made by the teacher and trace his well formed letter. The teacher gave the student an example and the student did his best to copy it.

The example Jesus left behind is the pattern of suffering. Reviled, he did not revile in return. Suffering, he did not threaten. He had done no crime, but he accepted punishment. He established the pattern of doing good and accepting suffering when necessary, showing this to be pleasing to God.

The teacher has given an example; will his disciples dare to copy it?