Thursday, August 25, 2011

Word Study: λογιζομαι

"...Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." (James 2:23b, ESV)

Our word for today's word study is the Greek word  λογιζομαι. It is found in the latter half of James 2:23. Comparing eight English translations reveals this word has been translated six different ways; "imputed, accounted, counted,  reckoned, credited,and declared. 

Careful students of Scripture will attempt to translate the original word with the English word that most clearly conveys the original meaning. There does not seem to be a unanimous or majority agreement on the meaning of this word.

Our word is used only 41 times in the Greek New Testament. It is translated as think nine times, impute 8 times, reckon 6 times, count 5 times, account 4 times, suppose 2 times, reason 1 time, number 1 time and then fives times with lesser miscellaneous words.

Working with the predominant translators allows us to conclude that this word is a hard to accurately and fully  display its meaning. That doesn't help a lot, but it is a start.

Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1969) defines impute as: 1:.  to lay the responsibility or blame for: charge; 1b: to credit to a person or a cause: attribute; 2:  to credit by transferal

Interestingly enough this word λογιζομαι is used only one time by James. Therefore we cannot compare the usage of this same word without usages in order to gain more insight as to why James chose this word.

Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines λογιζομαι as "to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over with the idea of "to take into account, to make account of." When used as a metaphor it means  "to pass to one's account, to impute." It can carry the idea of reckon, to lay to one's charge.

Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines λογιζομαι "to reckon, take into account" or metaphorically, "to put down to a person's account."

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) and the Revised Standard Bible (RSV) both translate  λογιζομαι as reckoned. The New International Version (NIV) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) each translate it as credited.

In common Greek there are two distinctive uses of λογιζομαι and both uses contain the idea of "an act of thought." The first usage is found in commercial dealings. This word is found often in legal writings for "charging up a debt." In this field it referred to estimating the value of an object or adding up the total debt in view of the debt being paid.  It was also used in classical writings. It was used in regards "to deliberate, or to conclude."

λογιζομαι was also used in regards to the Saving Act of God. It refers to "the imputing of faith." The utilization of this word links salvation with faith which in turn demonstrates the problem with merit. Faith is reckoned for righteousness because faith is pleasing to the will of God, and not because faith has any intrinsic value.

This word must be interpreted in light of the events in Genesis chapter twenty two. The event in Genesis 22 did not invalidate the biblical statement in Genesis fifteen that Abraham was justified by faith. What it did was demonstrate what had taken place earlier.

Thirty years earlier when God told Abraham that he would be "blessed" Abraham believed God. This belief is crucial, it doesn't mean that Abraham simply believed the words that God spoke, but Abraham's faith centered upon God Himself. Abraham was convinced by the character of God that God possessed what was necessary to fulfil the promise and as a result the promise would be fulfilled. Abraham's implicit trust in this promise "was credited" to him as righteousness. God placed to the account of Abraham saving grace. God took Abraham's faith and regarded his faith as having the "value of righteousness." Mind you, Abraham did not have righteousness within himself, he was a sinner, he fell short of God's standard.  God accepted Abraham's complete trust in His word as the equivalent of the right actions that must follow from that faith.

So, God counted or calculated the faith of Abraham with the same weight or value as saving righteousness. This is the same thing for us who have been made by God's grace His children. God at the moment of regeneration, gives us gift of faith in which we use to trust or believe God in regards to the truth of the gospel. Since God values this faith as equivalent to the necessary righteousness for salvation, He counts us as righteous which enables God to declare or state that we are just or justified.

Join us on Theological Thursday as we will continue to offer theological truths by unlocking the meaning of various words, terms, and definitions through the posting of the attributes of God, word studies, and events from church history. As both a pastor and Theologian I hope to convey to you the same love for theology that I have.


Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

Thanks for the informative post, Gregg. Interestingly, when I put (λογιζομαι) - logizomai - into Google translate, it brought up the word 'deemed.'

Happy Thursday! ☺

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Most interesting to read Gregg, I never know what I will learn when I visit your blog.

Have a good day.

John said...

That's a thorough look at a word, my friend.

Petra said...

Very thorough, but even more importantly very encouraging!