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Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words


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A — 1: αἰτέω
(Strong's #154 — Verb — aiteo — ahee-teh'-o )

"to ask," is to be distinguished from No. 2. Aiteo more frequently suggests the attitude of a suppliant, the petition of one who is lesser in position than he to whom the petition is made; e.g., in the case of men in asking something from God, Matthew 7:7 ; a child from a parent, Matthew 7:9,10 ; a subject from a king, Acts 12:20 ; priests and people from Pilate, Luke 23:23 (RV, "asking" for AV, "requiring"); a beggar from a passer by, Acts 3:2 . With reference to petitioning God, this verb is found in Paul's epistles in Ephesians 3:20 ; Colossians 1:9 ; in James four times, James 1:5,6 ; 4:2,3 ; in 1John, five times, 1 John 3:22 ; 5:14,15 (twice) ,16. See BEG , CALL FOR, CRAVE , DESIRE , REQUIRE.

A — 2: ἐρωτάω
(Strong's #2065 — Verb — erotao — er-o-tah'-o )

more frequently suggests that the petitioner is on a footing of equality or familiarity with the person whom he requests. It is used of a king in making request from another king, Luke 14:32 ; of the Pharisee who "desired" Christ that He would eat with him, an indication of the inferior conception he had of Christ, Luke 7:36 ; cp. Luke 11:37 ; John 9:15 ; 18:19 .

In this respect it is significant that the Lord Jesus never used aiteo in the matter of making request to the Father. "The consciousness of His equal dignity, of His potent and prevailing intercession, speaks out in this, that as often as He asks, or declares that He will ask anything of the Father, it is always erotao, an asking, that is, upon equal terms, John 14:16 ; 16:26 ; 17:9,15,20 , never aiteo, that He uses. Martha, on the contrary, plainly reveals her poor unworthy conception of His person, that ... she ascribes that aiteo to Him which He never ascribes to Himself, John 11:22 " (Trench, Syn. xl).

In passages where both words are used, the distinction should be noticed, even if it cannot be adequately represented in English. In John 16:23 , "in that day ye shall ask Me nothing," the verb is erotao, whereas in the latter part of the verse, in the sentence, "If ye shall ask anything of the Father," the verb is aiteo. The distinction is brought out in the RV margin, which renders the former clause "Ye shall ask Me no question," and this meaning is confirmed by the fact that the disciples had been desirous of "asking" Him a question (arotao, John 16:19 ). If the Holy Spirit had been given, the time for "asking" questions from the Lord would have ceased. In John 14:14 , where, not a question, but a request is made by the disciples, aiteo, is used.

Both verbs are found in 1 John 5:16 : in the sentence "he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death," the verb is aiteo, but with regard to the sin unto death, in the sentence "not concerning this do I say that he shall make request," the verb is erotao.

Later, the tendency was for erotao to approximate to aiteo. See BESEECH , DESIRE , INTREAT , PRAY , REQUEST.

Note: In Matthew 19:17 , the RV, following the most authentic mss., has "Why askest (erotao) thou Me concerning that which is good?"

A — 3: ἐπερωτάω
(Strong's #1905 — Verb — eperotao — ep-er-o-tah'-o )

a strengthened form of No. 2 (epi, "in addition"), is frequently used in the synoptic Gospels, but only twice in the Gospel of John, 18:7,21. In Romans 10:20 it is rendered "asked of" (AV, "asked after"). The more intensive character of the "asking" may be observed in Luke 2:46 ; 3:14 ; 6:9 ; 17:20 ; 20:21,27,40 ; 22:64 ; 23:3,6,9 . In Matthew 16:1 , it virtually signifies to demand (its meaning in later Greek). See DEMAND , DESIRE , QUESTION.

Note: For the corresponding noun eperotema, see ANSWER.

A — 4: πυνθάνομαι
(Strong's #4441 — Verb — punthanomai — poon-than'-om-ahee )

to ask by way of enquiry, not by way of making a request for something, is found in the Gospels and the Acts, five times in the former, seven in the latter; in Matthew 2:4 , AV, "demanded," RV, "enquired," so Acts 21:33 . See DEMAND , INQUIRE , UNDERSTAND.

A — 5: ἐξετάζω
(Strong's #1833 — Verb — exetazo — ex-et-ad'-zo )

"to search out" (ek, "out," intensive, etazo, "to examine"), is translated "ask," in John 21:12 , AV (RV, "inquire"); in Matthew 2:8 , AV, "search;" RV, "search out," expressing the intensive force of the verb, so Matthew 10:11 (AV, "inquire"). See INQUIRE , SEARCH.

A — 6: λέγω
(Strong's #3004 — Verb — lego — leg'-o )

"to say," occasionally signifies "to ask," as of an inquiry, the reason being that lego is used for every variety of speaking, e.g., Acts 25:20 , "I asked whether he would come to Jerusalem." See BID , BOAST , CALL , DESCRIBE , GIVE , NAME , PUT , Note (2), SAY , SPEAK , TELL , UTTER.

A — 7: ἀνακρίνω
(Strong's #350 — Verb — anakrino — an-ak-ree'-no )

"to judge," sometimes has the meaning to ask a question; e.g., 1 Corinthians 10:25,27 . See DISCERN , EXAMINE , JUDGE , SEARCH.

Notes: (1) For apaiteo, Luke 6:30 , see REQUIRE , No. 3 (2) In Luke 22:31 , RV, exaiteomai is rendered "hath asked to have."

B — 1: αἴτημα
(Strong's #155 — Noun Neuter — aitema — ah'ee-tay-mah )

akin to No. 1, lit., "that which has been asked for," is used in Luke 23:24 , RV, "what they asked for" (AV, "required"); Philippians 4:6 , "requests;" 1 John 5:15 , "petitions." See PETITION , REQUEST , REQUIRE.

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

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