Word Study: Compassion

The English word, compassion(s), is found 20 times in the NT. Seven Greek words are translated compassion, but not exclusively.

The first Greek word translated compassion is Strongs# 4697, splagknizomai. It is found 12 times in the NT, and 12 times it is translated “to have compassion” or “to be moved with compassion”: Mat 9:36; 14:14; 15:32; 18:27; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; 8:2; 9:22; Luke 7:13; 10:33; 15:20. “Splagknizomai is derived from the Greek word, Strongs# 4698, splagknon: meaning bowels or inner part. It is found 11 times in the NT translated bowels, 9 times, inward affection 1, tender mercies 1: Luke 1:78; Acts 1:18; 2 Cor 6:12; 7:15; Phil 1:8; 2:1; Col 3:12; Phil 1:7, 12, 20; 1 John 3:17. It should be translated “bowels” each and every time it is found.

The second Greek word translated compassion is Strongs# 1653, eleeo. It is found 33 total times in the NT. 14 times it is translated “have, obtain or show mercy 25; compassion 6: pity 1: Mat 5:7; 9:27; 15:22; 17:15; 18:33 (2x); 20:30, 31; Mark 5:19; 10:47, 48; 16:24; 17:13; 18:38, 39; Rom 9:15 (2x), 16, 18; 11:30 (2), 31, 32; 12:8; 1 Cor 7:25; 2 Cor 4:1; Phil 2:27; 1 Tim 1:13; 1 Pet 2:11 (3x); Jude 1:22.

The third Greek word translated compassion is Strongs# 3356, metriopatheo. It is found one time in the NT in Heb 5:2. This Greek word is not an easy word to translate and means “to be effect moderately or in measure” or “to be moderate in passion” or gentle (to treat indulgently). The word is derived from two Greek words, metrios (G3357, Acts 20:12, translated “a little” or literally “not measured”, much) and pathos (G3806, Rom 1:26; Col 3:5; 1 Thes 4:5, 3 total times in NT: affection 2, lust 1; could be lust, passion, desire), so literally “passion in measure”.

The fourth Greek word translated compassion is Strongs# 4835, sympathos, which literally means “feeling with”. It is found one time in the NT (1 Pet 3:8). It is similar to Strong 3356 (pathos is a part of the word) except instead of “metrio” the suffix, “sym” is used (“sym” means “with”). Thus, sympathos is “passion or feeling WITH” while metriopatheo is “affected in measure”. Both words are to be affected, one with and one in measure, but affected nonetheless. A similar words in the Greek is Strongs# 4834 (sympatheo, translated “compassion” in Heb 10:34 and “feeling” in Heb 4:15).

The fifth Greek word translated “compassion” is Strongs# 3627, oiktiro, meaning “to have pity on” (Rom 9:15 (2 times).

In the KJV 1 John 3:17 has the English word “compassion” is used, but it is not translated from a word. The Greek word splagknon (Strongs# 4698) is used here and it should be translated “bowels”.

The English word, compassion, is found 22 times in the KJV OT: Ex 2:6; Deut 13:17; 30:3; 1 Sam 23:21; 1 Kings 8:50 (2x); 2 Kings 13:23; 2 Chron 30:9; 36:15, 36:17; Ps 78:38; 85:15; 111:4; 112:4; 145:8; Is 49:15; Jer 12:15; Lam 3:22, 3:32; Ez 16:5; Mic 7:19; Zech 7:9. There are four Hebrew words translated compassion.

The first Hebrew word translated “compassion” is Strongs 2550 (KaMaL, found 41 total times in the OT) translated pity 18 times, spare 18, compassion 5: Ex 2:6; Deut 13:8; 1 Sam 15:3, 9, 15; 23:21: 2 Sam 12:4,6,7; 2 Sam 21:7; 2 Chron 36:15,17; Job 6:10; 16:13; 20:13; 27:22; Prov 6:34; Is 9:19; 30:14; Jer 13:14; 15:5; 21:7; 50:14; 51:3; Lam 2:2,17,21; 3:43; Ez 5:11; 7:4,9; 8:18; 9:5,10; 16:5; 36:21; Joel 2:18; Hab 1:17; Zech 11:5,6: Mal 3:17. KaMal is found in puddle of words in the Strongs, 2524 to 2579. In this puddle of words one will find words meaning hot, anger, delight, violence, mercy, pity, boil, ferment, and bubbling up. There is a sense of warmth in either a positive or negative sense such as mercy and anger or a practical sense as boiling and fermenting. Compassion could be seen as a positive emotion, bubbling up from within a person, as does, anger. There also seems to be a sense of an inner working that is not seen at the first, such as fermenting, boiling, anger and mercy.

The second thru fourth Hebrew word is a puddle of three words, Strongs# 7349 (RaKuWM, to love; 13 total times: merciful 8; compassion 5. Ex 34:6; Deut 4:31; 2 Chron 30:9; Neh 9:31; Ps 78:38; 86:15; 103:8; 111:4; 112:4: 145:8; Joel 2:13; 4:2) 7355 (RaKaM, love, 47 total: mercy 32, compassion 8, pity 3, love 1, merciful 1, misc 2: Ex 33:19 & 7356 (RaKaM, love: 13 total: merciful 8, compassion 5: Ex 34:6).

 

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