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Greek Word Study - Guide

“Do you understand what you are reading?”

“How can I,” replied the eunuch, “unless someone guides me?”

The Greek word which means to guide is hodegeo (ho day GEH oh). Its literal meaning is “to lead in a journey, to show the way.” Through its 42 uses in the Greek Old Testament, it is used almost exclusively of God. It is he who leads Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 13:17) and out of Babylonian captivity (Isaiah 43:19). Repeatedly in the Psalms, God leads his people in paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3, etc). David could pray, “Teach me Thy way, O Lord" (Psalm 86:11) and “guide me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:24).

When we come to the New Testament, however, the word begins to take on a sinister sound. This is especially true when men appoint themselves as guides, replacing and overruling the leading of God. All five uses of the noun form of this word (hodegos -ho day GOSS) in the New Testament are negative in character. The Pharisees are blind guides who lead other blind men to fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:14). They are the kind of blind guides who strain out gnats, but swallow camels (Matthew 23:16, 24). Their arrogant hypocrisy was typical of the Jew Paul described, “confident to be a guide for blind people” (Romans 2:19). With the word used in such a negative manner, it is not surprising to find Judas Iscariot called a guide for those who captured Jesus (Acts 1:16).

It is vitally important then, that we choose our guides carefully. Just as a blind man will fall into the ditch with his blind leader, a disciple will ultimately be like his teacher (Luke 6:39-40). Woe to the person who is discipled by an unworthy guide!

The Ethiopian eunuch was fortunate to have Philip to guide him (Acts 8:31), for Philip knew the doctrine of the apostles who were guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). We who are guided by their truth will someday enjoy the blessings of heaven, where the Lamb will guide us to springs of living water (Revelation 7:17).