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Greek Word Study - Surpassing

Plato observed that every life has its share of pains and pleasures. His definition of a healthy life vs. a diseased life was simply this: “in health the pleasures exceed the pains, but in disease the pains exceed the pleasures.” With this in mind, Plato set about to create laws for a republic in which every man could live this more pleasant, healthy life. Unfortunately for Plato, his utopia never happened.

The Greek word Plato used for “exceed” was hyperballo (hoo per BALL oh). Originally, it meant “I throw over,” or “I throw above and beyond.” The noun form, hyperbole (hoo per bo LAY), eventually became our English word “hyperbole,” which now means an excessive overstatement.

In the New Testament, however, hyperballo and hyperbole were still being used as Plato used them: to describe something that is clearly “above and beyond” something else. For instance, Paul said the glory of the new covenant is “above and beyond” the glory of the old (2 Cor 3:10). That is why our light and momentary troubles are producing in us an eternal glory that “far outweighs” them all (2 Cor 4:17). (Paul’s words in this verse were literally, “produce a weight according to a hyperbole unto a hyperbole.”)

It is no “hyperbole” to say that the Kingdom of God brings us many things that are clearly “above and beyond” what we could ever get on our own. We have God’s surpassing grace (2 Cor 9:14), incomparably great power (Eph 1:19), and the love that surpasses knowledge (Eph 3:19). Best of all, we can look forward to the coming ages when God will show us the incomparable riches of His grace through His kindness expressed through Christ Jesus (Eph 2:7).

Plato may not have achieved his utopia, but we shall certainly be given ours!