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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words


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1: λαμπάς
(Strong's #2985 — Noun Feminine — lampas — lam-pas' )

denotes "a torch" (akin to lampo, "to shine"), frequently fed, like, a "lamp," with oil from a little vessel used for the purpose (the angeion of Matthew 25:4 ); they held little oil and would frequently need replenishing. Rutherford (The New Phrynichus) points out that it became used as the equivalent of luchnos (No. 2), as in the parable of the ten virgins, Matthew 25:1,3,4,7,8; John 18:3 , "torches;" Acts 20:8 , "lights;" Revelation 4:5; 8:10 (RV, "torch," AV, "lamp"). See Note below. Cp. phanos, "a torch," John 18:3 (translated "lanterns").

2: λύχνος
(Strong's #3088 — Noun Masculine — luchnos — lookh'-nos )

frequently mistranslated "candle," is a portable "lamp" usually set on a stand (see LAMPSTAND); the word is used literally, Matthew 5:15; Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16; 11:33,36; 15:8; Revelation 18:23; 22:5; (b) metaphorically, of Christ as the Lamb, Revelation 21:23 , RV , "lamp" (AV, "light"); of John the Baptist, John 5:35 , RV , "the lamp" (AV, "a ... light"); of the eye, Matthew 6:22; Luke 11:34 , RV, "lamp;" of spiritual readiness, Luke 12:35 , RV, "lamps;" of "the word of prophecy," 2 Peter 1:19 , RV, "lamp." See LIGHT.

"In rendering luchnos and lampas our translators have scarcely made the most of the words at their command. Had they rendered lampas by 'torch' not once only (John 18:3 ), but always, this would have left 'lamp,' now wrongly appropriated by lampas, disengaged. Altogether dismissing 'candle,' they might then have rendered luchnos by 'lamp' wherever it occurs. At present there are so many occasions where 'candle' would manifestly be inappropriate, and where, therefore, they are obliged to fall back on 'light,' that the distinction between phos and luchnos nearly, if not quite, disappears in our Version. The advantages of such a re-distribution of the words would be many. In the first place, it would be more accurate. Luchnos is not a 'candle' ('candela,' from 'candeo,' the white wax light, and then any kind of taper), but a hand-lamp, fed with oil. Neither is lampas a 'lamp,' but a 'torch'" (Trench Syn.,).

Note: There is no mention of a candle in the original either in the OT or in the NT. The figure of that which feeds upon its own substance to provide its light would be utterly inappropriate. A lamp is supplied by oil, which in its symbolism is figurative of the Holy Spirit.

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Lamp'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words. 1940.

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