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Greek Word Study - Power

Danger comes in unlikely packages.

Alfred was a bright boy, fluent in five languages and a skilled chemist in his teenage years. Clouds covered his career, however, and by the age of thirty Alfred was known as “the mad scientist.” In 1864 one of his chemical experiments blew up his small factory, killing his younger brother and four others. Alfred survived. Forbidden by his government to rebuild the factory, Alfred secured an old barge where he went on experimenting with nitroglycerin. By chance he discovered that the dangerous liquid could be stabilized by absorption into dry material, and in 1867 he patented his explosive invention. Now great tasks of moving dirt and rock were made easy.

But what should his invention be called? Reaching back into the literature of the classics, Alfred seized a word that seemed to have all the necessary elements: incredible power, almost unlimited usefulness, and possible danger. The Greek word he chose was dynamis (DOON ah miss) and his invention was called dynamite. With the enormous fortune he gained, Alfred Nobel set up and funded the Nobel Prize.

Alfred was on target with his word choice: dynamis power is not something to trifle with. The Greek version of the O.T. says that God dried up the Red Sea “so that all the nations of the earth might know that the dynamis of the Lord is mighty, and that you might reverence the Lord your God forever” (Josh 4:24). The N.T. uses dynamis 118 times, especially in reference to the miracles of Jesus as an exhibition of divine power. (Just think of the arrogance of Simon the Sorcerer who thought that he himself should be called “the Great Power of God”!)

Most of all, I am excited by Paul’s use of this word in Ephesians. Paul prayed that we might know God’s incomparably great dynamis which is at work in us who believe (1:19). Through this dynamis working within us, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. This is the power, the “dynamite,” of God!