Word Study #124 — Wait, Waiting

December 31, 2011

This has been a surprisingly difficult study. It began, as several recent ones have, from a conversation at church. There is nothing like an interactive group of the Lord’s people to motivate earnest investigation of faithfulness. It is truly a gift of the Lord’s graciousness!

Jim had commented, almost as an aside, that whereas we usually think of ourselves as “waiting” for the completion of God’s plans, he had been impressed at Peter’s assertion that God himself was “waiting” for his people to get on board with his program (I Pet.3:20). That sparked speculation about how we might be inhibiting or delaying the fulfillment we seek. Are we keeping him waiting?

One excellent thing about such discussions is the way they send you “back to the Book”!

 

The concept of “waiting” in the New Testament is represented by no less than eight different Greek words! The lexicons are only of minimal help, and Trench’s work on synonyms does not treat these at all, so we are reduced to etymology and context to try to distinguish between them.

Three of the words appear only once, so there is no comparison available to us. Two of these are prefixed versions of meno (#58). Anameno (I Thes.1:10) speaks of waiting for Jesus’ return, and perimeno (Ac.1:4) is Jesus’ instruction to his disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to “hang around” until they received the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for their assignment. The preposition ana can indicate either “up” or “again”, and peri is usually “around” or “in the vicinity of”. The third word, prosedreuo (I Cor.9:13), refers to people – either Jewish or pagan – who “wait” to perform ritual duties at an altar.

Three other words are prefixed forms of dechomai (“to accept, receive, or welcome”) which we will examine in a later post. It is not translated “wait” in the New Testament.
Apekdechomai, (“to await eagerly, to expect anxiously”), is used 7x. Although the people doing the waiting – uniformly for Jesus’ return – are usually disciples (“we” 5x) Rom.8:23,25; I Cor.1:7, Gal.5:5, Phil.3:20; and in Heb.9:28 “those who are waiting/looking for him,” in Rom.8:19, “all creation” is eagerly anticipating the “revealing of the sons of God” that will accompany that glorious denouement. The use of two prefixes would tend to emphasize the atmosphere of every reference as one of joyous anticipation.

Ekdechomai, (8x), with only one prefix, is usually a more ordinary form of expectation: the lame man “waiting” for the pool to be stirred-up (Jn.5:3), Paul “waiting” for his companions in Athens (Ac.17:6) or for the arrival of Timothy (I Cor.16:11); a farmer waiting for the harvest (Jas.5:7), and ordinary politeness at a church dinner (I Cor.11:33). But it is also used of Abraham’s faithfulness to God’s call (Heb.11:13), of God’s delaying the execution of his judgment (I Pet.3:20), and of Jesus waiting (Heb.10:13) for the final subjugation of his enemies! These latter two are the only references to “waiting” on the part of anyone but “ordinary” humans , other than the Rom.8:19 passage cited above. I am not sure of the implication of that observation.

Prosdechomai, occurring 14x, although its only use in Homer was “to await or expect”, later was more commonly used of welcome or acceptance, sometimes (not always) into the presence of a superior. New Testament references are weighted more heavily toward the older usage, including “waiting for the Kingdom of God” (Mt.15:43, Lk.2:25, 38; 23:51); for Jesus’ return (Tit.2:13, Jude 21); and for a master’s arrival (Lk.12:36), but also Jesus’ welcome of the “wrong” kind of people (Lk.15:2), admonitions to “receive” / care for traveling disciples (Rom.16:2, Phil.2:29), and the “acceptance”of persecuted status on the part of the faithful (Heb.10:34) and their refusal (11:35) to “accept” escape.

Prosdokao, also with 14 uses, although occasionally referring to “ordinary” waiting of people for other people (Lk.1:21, 8:40; Ac.10:24, 27:33) usually leans more toward the idea of expectation (Mt.11:3 and parallel Lk.7:19; Mt.24:50 and parallel Lk.12:46; Lk.3:15). This is true even on a totally human level (Ac.28:6, 3:5). However, there is an urgency evident in II Pet.3:12,13,14, regarding the Lord’s return, probably due to the severity of the persecution that the readers were facing.

Finally, proskartereo, usually translated (8x) “continue” – (which would really fit better with #58) – is only twice rendered “wait” – Mk.3:9 when Jesus requested the use of a boat, and Ac.10:7 of Cornelius’ servant. We will consider the others with the idea of “watch” (coming next!)

So where does this leave us?
Maybe our focus needs to be less on the specific idea of “waiting” and more on what we should be doing while we are waiting! The contexts of the listed references provide a clue: here are a few, and you can check out others.

I Thes.1:10, for example, is preceded by v.9, which speaks of their having “turned away from idols to become slaves to the true and living God.”
The discussion in Rom.8:18-30 includes dependence, not only on the Spirit’s intercession, but also on cultivating his fruit.
I Cor.1:7 is enclosed in an admonition (4-9) regarding growing into the community designed to prepare us for his coming.
While the disciples were “waiting in Jerusalem” for the coming of the Holy Spirit, they spent some of their time “organizing” – Ac. 1:15-26 – (which was NOT a part of the Lord’s instructions!) as well as “paying constant attention to prayer” (v.14), which was.

Later, Peter, who had earlier led the organization effort, writing to brethren under severe persecution (II Pet.3:12-14), reassures them that their longed-for deliverance will come – and urges them to live faithfully in the peace and justice for which they are waiting. (He was not laboring under the modern delusion that one needs government legislation or permission to live faithfully!!!)

Perhaps the most significant of all, although it does not use any of the “waiting” words, is the announcement of the Lamb’s wedding feast, in Rev.19:7. The waiting, of course, is over by then. But the invitation asserts joyfully, “His wife / Bride has prepared herself!” and explains that her radiant garments consist of “the just deeds of God’s people” !(v.8)

None of this should be taken as any kind of disparagement of waiting, or eager anticipation. That is very much in order. But it just might be that the “preparation” part is more practical that we tend to think. Maybe we and our Lord and Bridegroom are both “waiting”.

May we faithfully wait – and prepare – and speed the day!

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Incarnation, part 2

December 19, 2011

I was asked to contribute at church this week, and this was the result.  It is not exactly a word study, although it relates to several already posted:  #23, 84 and 85 in particular.
I offer it here as a greeting and blessing to you all at this Christmas season.

Incarnation: Lessons from Clay

 Scriptures: OT: Jeremiah 18:1-6, Isaiah 29:16
NT: I Corinthians 12:12-26, Romans 9:20-21

 This is the season when the Incarnation is celebrated. Unfortunately, the standard celebration stops far too soon. It is easy to be sentimental about a baby in a manger; and pick it up later at Easter time with a lot of talk, most of it not supported by scripture, about Jesus’ death. But that ignores what is probably among the most amazing – and most crucial – parts of the story, the statement in John 1:14 : “The Word became flesh, and lived for a while among us!
“Flesh”: a real, live person! Somewhere along the line, I think probably in the middle ages, “flesh” came to be considered “evil” or “sinful”. The NIV even translates it that way. That can not possibly be true, or Jesus would not have adopted it, or emphasized it to his disciples after the resurrection, when they were frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost – “A spirit has no flesh and bones, as you see I do!”
In the early church, the acid test of faithfulness (I Jn.4:1-3) was the acknowledgment that “Jesus Christ was come in the flesh!” that he was REAL. Hebrews 2 goes into considerable detail about why that was necessary, in order for him to definitively DESTROY death; but basically, it was because he knew that “show” was superior to “tell” when it came to forming a faithful Kingdom. “Tell” had been tried for a long time – the whole Old Testament period. The letter to the Hebrews makes it abundantly clear that “tell” did not work. That’s why Jesus decided he needed to “show.”

 Even that, though, is only half of the story. The concept of Incarnation has TWO branches: Jesus becoming a genuine, human person for our benefit, and his people becoming a manifestation of his own Body, for the benefit of the rest of the world! Incarnation has become OUR JOB!
Fortunately, the Creator of the universe has graciously undertaken the task of creating that Body – which is a good thing, since we ourselves can be pretty clueless, and often mess things up royally!
Since he created, and therefore owns, all that exists, he is entitled to use every bit of creation to reveal himself and his ways. NOTHING is off-limits – even the dirt under our feet.

 Both Isaiah and Jeremiah referred to God as a potter, and his people as clay, although that analogy appears only once in the new Testament. Notice that God told Jeremiah, “Go down to the potter’s house, and there, my word will come to you!”
Since beginning to work with clay, I have learned many things about how he chooses to work – starting long before a potter begins to form any vessel. I prepare my clay from scratch – digging and mixing it, to achieve a “clay body” which I can use. There are many ways in which this illustrates the effort the Lord expends, also, to create a Body he can use. You can’t understand this without getting your hands dirty, just as we are of no use to the Kingdom unless we are willing to get our hands dirty.

While in some places, usable clay can be found in a single deposit, in this area, successful pottery requires a mixture of four different kinds of clay, none of which is useful alone! This is also true of the Lord’s clay body. You need to feel and handle these clays in order to understand.
The red clay is strong – but good for nothing but bricks. It cracks when shaped, bent, or rolled thin.
The yellow is smooth and pliable, but not strong enough to stand up by itself.
The gray is grainy. It doesn’t stain like the other two, but will not polish to a nice surface. However, I always add it if the pot is intended for cookware, as the grit helps it to resist thermal shock.
The white is sticky, and while it can be used alone if one works very slowly, it does not polish well, but it can be used to remedy the problems of some of the others, and they also shine better with some white added. The mix can also be improved by some clay from elsewhere, like some very fine clay from a streambed in Alaska. Do you see any parallels in the types of people you know?

Before any of these can be used, they need to be powdered, soaked, and strained to remove gravel,sticks, roots, and assorted junk. Only the “junk” is removed. This pounding and straining process does not change the “being” of any of the clays. They still have their created attributes to contribute to the mix, but they are no longer individually recognizable. They have become a part of something entirely new. I can only guess at the proper proportions at this point; it will need to be adjusted later.
Notice that the clay cannot have the “junk” strained out without being wet. The proper amount of water at any time is essential. You all are familiar with the references to “water” as the Holy Spirit. There are just a few attributes that are relevant here. It is not for nothing that Jesus told his disciples to WAIT for the Spirit to empower their assignment. At many points in the process of clay preparation, YOU HAVE TO WAIT. To get the mix properly strained, I would soak this for a week or two, in order that the particles be completely absorbed and soak up as much water as possible.
Then, after straining, you have to WAIT again – while it settles, and excess water is poured off. Until then you can’t even check if you have a useful mix.
After it is dried to a consistency you can handle, if the proportions are not right, one or more ingredients can be added to improve the texture. At each point, the clay has to be thoroughly mixed.
When you are satisfied with the mix, it then has to WAIT again – to sit – for several weeks – (the Japanese potters are said to never use the clay they mix, but leave it for their grandchildren!) – to “mature”. (I don’t know what this does, but the product does not work well if you don’t let it sit.)
Notice that there is a difference between mixing and combining. I tried combining two clays, because I thought it might “look nice”. But they cracked in the firing. Their shrinkage was not alike. Thorough MIXING is necessary for a successful product. A lot of talk is bounced around today about “diversity.” And that can be a good thing – but only if the diverse people are MIXED, and not just “combined.”

 The forming of a pot, its finishing and firing, also require extensive experience on the part of a potter. They must be regulated by both the characteristics and content of the clay body, and the final result that is desired. (Jeremiah and Paul were not potters! The clay does NOT always perform as the potter may have in mind!) But as Jeremiah observed, if a pot is “spoiled”, the potter can readily use the clay for something else. Unfired clay is completely recyclable.
Perhaps the potter will adjust the mix, or even modify his earlier plan.
Perhaps he will need to work more slowly, allowing the clay to become partly firm before adding more.
Perhaps he will need thicker walls, to be scraped later to the shape and thickness he intended.
Perhaps it will be necessary to do preliminary smoothing and polishing before the piece is finished. Even after it is mostly dry, an even, polished surface may require the addition of a thin coating of finer clay, known as “slip”, to correct imperfections. Many hours of rubbing with a smooth stone are needed to create a good shine.

The firing, too, requires that the potter be very familiar with his clay, and know how much heat it can endure.. Earthenware, with its high iron content, cannot endure high-fire temperatures. It melts. But other clays, like fine porcelains, would crumble if only fired to low temperatures. Blackware and horsehair decorations require even lower firing temperatures, or they will be ruined.

 Our focus today, however, is simply upon the preparation of the clay body, and the Body into which the Lord intends to form his people, in order that we may actually become a credible part of the Christmas miracle of the Incarnation. I was not able to find a Gospel reference to the quotation attributed to Jesus in Heb.10:5, but I believe it is hugely relevant to correct many of the common misperceptions that have persisted in what is labeled “Christian doctrine”. Jesus says very plainly, (presumably to his Father), “You didn’t want sacrifices and offerings, but you fashioned a Body for me!” And after detailing some of the failings of the old system, he declares, “Look, I have come to do your will!”

 As a celebration of Jesus’ incarnation at the Christmas season, I commend to you the exercise of combing through the Gospels to list all the reasons why Jesus said he came! I expect you will be as surprised as I was, how radically his own statements differ from “standard Christian teaching”.
But if we are rightly to fulfill the mandate to participate in the Incarnation, it behooves us to find out what Jesus considers that it involves.

May we be properly strained, mixed, and blended into the Body that our Master Potter can use for his purposes!

 


Word Study #123 — Victory

December 13, 2011

We have seen how folks at one end of the Christian spectrum err in the direction of self-deprecation and obsession with “surrender” and “sacrifice” (see previous post), but folks at the other end depart just as far from the New Testament message in their insistence upon celebrating having achieved “victory in Jesus” to the exclusion of any recognition of a need to grow up, and to become mature, disciplined disciples.

Unlike “surrender”, nikao, “to be victorious, to conquer, to win, to be successful, to prevail” (L/S) does at least appear in the New Testament: twice it is rendered “conquer”, once “get victory”, 24x “overcome”, and 1x “prevail.” Seventeen of these occur in the Revelation, ten of which refer to folks who have remained doggedly faithful in the face of severe persecution (2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:21, 12:11, 15:2, and 21:7). Three refer to the triumph of Jesus himself (3:21, 5:5, 17:14), and four to the temporary, apparent victory of the forces of evil (6:2 – twice –, 11:7, and 13:7).

Of the rest of the New Testament, one reference is to Jesus (Jn.16:33) as he reassures his disciples that he has already overcome the world, and one is in the parable (Lk.11:22) where he speaks of a strong man being “overcome” by one stronger than he.
The remaining eight are confined to two epistles. In Rom.3:4, Paul is referring to God’s victory in his just judgment, and in Rom.12:21 he urges his readers not to allow themselves to be “overcome by evil”, but proactively to “overcome evil with good.”
John, in his first letter (2:13-14), addresses the young men of his congregation as those who “have been gaining victory” – a present perfect tense – over the evil one. The perfect tense describes action that began in the past, but continues into the present, and perhaps beyond. Later (4:4), he reminds them that their victory over the anti-Christian spirits of the world (v.1-3) is possible because “the Spirit that is in / among you all is greater than what is in the world.” The game isn’t over yet! And in 5:4-5, his assertion is that following the Lord’s instructions is not burdensome, because those who have been born of God (enlisted in the Kingdom) are (present tense) in the process of overcoming the world. The “victory” (nike) that has conquered (aorist tense) the world, is identified as their / our faithfulness! This is yet another place where the dynamic understanding of pistis (#1) is absolutely essential.

The noun nike, and its later form, nikos, is used only five times total. In I Jn.5:4, referenced above, and also I Cor.15:54,55,57, it is celebrating his people’s sharing in Jesus’ victory over death / the grave (refer also to Heb.2, although the word is not there), and Mt.12:20, which quotes a messianic prophecy of Isaiah (42:1-4). In every instance, the “battle” in which both Jesus and his people have “overcome / conquered / been victorious”, is the ultimate struggle against the forces of evil and death. There is no reference whatever to the petty annoyances of life to which some folks love to apply it. (Perhaps they have never recognized the real enemy?) As in so many of our other studies, the real issue, whether on a personal or a corporate level, is “Who’s in charge here?” And the reply is clear (Rv.17:14) –”The Lamb will conquer them, because he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and those with him are called (#54) and chosen (#56) and faithful (#1)!”

There are a few other words that are rarely rendered “overcome” or “prevail”.

Peter uses hettaomai (II Pet.2:19-20) in warning his readers that they will become slaves to whomever / whatever they choose to allow to “conquer” them (similar to Paul’s use of nikao in Rom.12:21).
Luke employs katakurieuo (Ac.19:16) along with ischuo, to describe the defeat of the impostor-exorcists at the hands of a man possessed by an evil spirit.

Ischuo also appears in Ac.19:20 of the growth and success of the true message of the Gospel, and in Rv.12:8 of the dragon and his cohorts. Ischuo is more commonly used as one of the “power” words (#31), having primary reference to physical strength.

The prefixed form, katischuo, occurs only twice: emphasizing the inability of the “gates of hades/death” (Mt.16:18) to “prevail” against Jesus’ church, and the way the chief priests were able to beat down Pilate’s objections (Lk.23:23) to their lynch-mob.

Perhaps the most fascinating word of all in this group is hupernikao, a prefixed form of nikao. Liddell/Scott records only three writers to have used it: two of them renowned medical doctors – Hippocrates in the 5th century BC, and Galen in the 2nd century AD; and Paul in Rom.8:37.

The preposition huper may refer to something being “above, over, or beyond” normal expectations; or, if a relationship is being described, it can mean “on behalf of, for the benefit of” a person or cause.
As a prefix, it carries the flavor of “exceedingly” or “excessively” (English cognate, “hyper”!)
Medically, an active form of the verb might refer to a patient having “conquered” or “prevailed” to recover from his illness; a passive form might indicate that he succumbed to it. But Paul is not speaking of disease.

He has just listed a host of situations or conditions that might threaten one’s confidence or trust in the love of God. The subject is the all-encompassing completeness of God’s provision for every eventuality (not to avoid it, but to get through it), by the triumph of Jesus’ resurrection, even in the face of the most brutal persecution. It is “in all these things” that we are “gaining an exceptional victory (traditionally, “more than conquerors”) through the One who loved us.”

Slowly and carefully re-read vv.31-38, and let the picture soak into your consciousness.

No shallow boasting of “victory” over a stubbed toe, an unpleasant associate, or even a bad habit, is here. Rather, we are being provided with the “ammunition” required, to exercise the faithfulness described by John (I Jn.5:5), and to participate joyfully in the triumph of our King!

Thanks be to God!


Word Study #122 — “Surrender”

December 9, 2011

This is another word about which we hear far too much!
Ubiquitous in hymnody, mystical literature, and groups with a pietistic orientation, it does not exist in New Testament writings! Find it if you can!

And with good reason: surrender is the last recourse of the conquered – those who have lost a war – a last-ditch effort to avoid total destruction! It is uniformly coerced – and there is no coercion in genuine Christian teaching! Jesus’ invitation is to deliberate, voluntary enlistment in his Kingdom! His people are called to join the winning team, not to plead for relief from disaster!

Now, it is certainly true that Jesus also spoke of “denying” (#68) one’s own self-interest, and “forsaking” possessions and other attachments (Mt.19:27,29; Mk.1:18, Lk.5:11, 14:23). But please note the tone of the parables with which he commended such action: Mt.13:44-46.
There is no coerced, mournful resignation or renunciation here!

The finder of the treasure in a field is so excited about his discovery that he hurries to sell everything he has in order to purchase the field – apo tes charas – out of his JOY!

Likewise, the merchant, who had been seeking (present tense – continuous effort) for fine pearls, upon finally discovering one of supreme value, deemed it well worth the expenditure of “all that he had.”

These gentlemen were neither mourning nor boasting of what they had “sacrificed” (#95) / “surrendered”. They were celebrating their great good fortune!

The writer to the Hebrews describes even Jesus’ endurance of an ignominious death as being “for the joy that was set before him” (Heb.12:2) – and that expectation as being fully and gloriously vindicated! Even such a dire situation is represented, not as “surrender”, but as ultimate triumph!

So where did all the “surrender” themes come from? My best guess is that it was an artifact of medieval mysticism, which arose as a lonely, introspective pursuit, that resulted when devout individuals were crowded out of the increasingly oppressive and opulent hierarchical institution that had replaced the simple New Testament brotherhood. Lack of a brotherhood leaves one who wishes to be faithful no alternative but a choice between two equally impossible options: either to withdraw into individualism, or to “forget the whole thing”. An extremely painful position.
It was also perhaps enhanced by the elevation to “sainthood” of spectacular “converts” like Augustine, who, tired of their lascivious luxury, “surrendered” it in favor of its opposite; or others who had actively opposed the Kingdom before signing on with the King.

The resulting atmosphere, in which “you have to be really, really bad – or at least say that you are – in order to be properly converted”, creates a dilemma which we have witnessed, in which serious young people have protested in confusion, “I want to commit my life to Jesus, but I can’t say I ran away from him or fought against him! It isn’t true!” It is just plain wrong to put people into such a situation!

If a Kingdom citizen’s deepest desire is faithfully to serve the King, what or to whom is he supposed to “surrender?” I strongly suspect that this teaching is just another effort to play on the vulnerability of sincere people, to feed their tendency to focus on self-condemnatory introspection (which, in addition to being contrived, is only self-centeredness in another costume), and keep them feeling “guilty” enough to be manipulated!

Lord, deliver us from those who demand “surrender,” and free us joyfully to seek your Kingdom above all!


Word Study #121 — Convict, Conviction

December 3, 2011

Many of the words that are favorites of folks whose “gospel preaching” consists primarily of attempts to put their audience (read,”victims”) on a massive guilt-trip, occur rarely, if at all, in the New Testament, and seldom with the connotations which those “preachers” trumpet with such insistence. But this has to be one of the most abused words of all. In the traditional KJV that is so dear to their hearts, the English word “convict”appears only one single time (Jn.8:9),and “conviction” not at all! So much for their need to gloat over having brought people “under conviction”, to boast of the “strength of one’s convictions”, or of threatening folks with tender consciences that they must ransack their memories in order to be “convicted” of forgotten (or imagined) transgressions. There is no such teaching to be found in the New Testament – anywhere! (If you can find any, please feel free to comment. But be certain that you accurately quote a New Testament passage!)

The Greek word, elegcho, translated “convict” only in minor manuscripts of the John 8 passage cited above, where it describes the scene of the wannabe executioners slinking away at Jesus’ rebuke, does occur elsewhere, with other translations: “convince” 4x, “rebuke”5x, “reprove” 5x, and “tell one’s fault” 1x. Classically, it represents the language of the courtroom, or of philosophical debate. L/S lists “to disgrace, or put to shame; to treat with contempt; to cross-examine or question; to accuse one of doing wrong; to test or bring to proof; to be convicted (legally) of wrongdoing; to bring convincing proof; to refute (in a debate); to put right or correct; to decide a dispute; to expose a wrong or betray a weakness.”
The common English understanding of “convict” more closely parallels the passages where elegcho is rendered “convince” – Jesus challenges his accusers that they cannot “convince/convict” him of failing God’s standard (Jn.8:46); Paul describes an outsider being “convinced / convicted” (I Cor.14:24) by the prophetic messages of all the brotherhood to acknowledge that “God is surely among you all!”; and James makes the point that one dare not pick and choose only parts of the Law for observation, but that the Law itself passes equal judgment (“conviction”) on every transgression (2:9). Only in his letter to Titus (1:9) does Paul use elegcho in the context of debate or instruction.

Although elegcho was rendered “rebuke” and “reprove” 5x each, the more common word for those terms in Greek was epitimao (24x). Trench distinguishes between the two words, taking issue with the use of the word “reprove” for elegcho, considering that it fails to take into account the possibility of “being brought to one’s senses.” He holds that epitimao carries the notion of blaming, with no indication of whether the blame is deserved or not, and no assurance of its having any effect; whereas he thinks that elegcho describes a confrontation that at least causes a person to see his error, and hopefully to remedy it. This is more or less consistent with the L/S listing of “to assign blame, to censure, or the assessment of a penalty by a judge, for epitimao, although earlier, the term was also used for honor, or a price (the meaning of the root word, timao).

Epitimao is used of Jesus “rebuking” a storm (Mt.8:26, Mk.4:39, Lk.8:24), evil spirits (Mt.17:18, Mk.1:25, 9:25; Lk.4:35, 9:42), and a fever (Lk.4:39), however, and in all of these cases, the effect was both expected and dramatic – so that particular differentiation is probably not valid.

Certainly the use of elegcho in I Tim.5:20, Tit.1:13, 2:15; Heb.12:5, Rv.3:19 (translated “rebuke”) anticipates a change in behavior, as it does also in Jn.3:20, 16:8; Eph.5:11 and 13; II Tim.4:2 (translated “reprove”. Only the confrontation between Herod and John the Baptist (Lk.3:19) seems to have no expectation of improvement.
The instructions for dealing with a brother’s error uses elegcho in Mt.18:15 and epitimao in Lk.17:3.
In II Tim.4:2, both words are used together.
The usage, therefore, seems to suggest that the terms are nearly, if not entirely, synonymous.

Epitimao is the word used of the discussion between Jesus and Peter in Mt.16:22 and Mk.8:32-33, as well as in the incident of the disciples scolding the crowds for “bothering” Jesus with their children (Mk.10:13, Mt.19:13, Lk.18:15) and his correcting (Lk.9:55) their misunderstanding. This was also the demand of the Pharisees who thought Jesus should forbid the praises of his disciples and the children in the Palm Sunday procession and later in the temple (Lk.19:39), and also describes the efforts of the crowd who tried to silence the blind men who were calling to Jesus for help (Mt.20:31), as well as to refer to Jesus’ instructions to his disciples (translated “charged them”) (Mt.3:12, 8:30, 10:48, 12:16; Lk.9:21).

It remains for us to examine the much-quoted passage in John 16:8-11, which is frequently cited as justification for much of the guilt-tripping perpetrated under the guise of “evangelism” (See #18, 43, and 67). First of all, please note that the subject of the verb, elegxei (future tense), no matter how you choose to translate it, is parakletos, the “coach”, the Holy Spirit. It is his job, not ours!
Please note also that the object of the verb is “the world” (ton kosmon), not the disciples, nor those who are contemplating joining them! Indeed, it is in the disciple group, coached and enabled by the Holy Spirit, that “the world” is intended to see a demonstration of Kingdom living, and the revelation that “the ruler of this world” has been defeated!!! (Jn.16:11)
As we have seen, it is perfectly in order for more mature members of the Kingdom to correct the brethren when necessary – please refer to #116, and see earlier references to the epistles to Timothy and Titus in this study, and the familiar Mt.18:15 passage – but it is not our job to reform (convict, rebuke, or reprove) the world, or to attempt to force Kingdom behavior upon those who have no commitment to our King. Kingdom behavior must be enabled by the Holy Spirit – there is no other way!

It is as the “outsider” experiences the life of the gathered group of disciples (I Cor.14-24-25), prophesying (see #45) and interacting under the instruction of the Holy Spirit, that he will be “convinced / convicted”, acknowledging the presence of God.

May we continually strive to become the welcoming brotherhood where this can happen!