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Old / New Testament Greek Lexical Dictionary

Entry for Strong's #703 - ἀρέτη

Word Origin
from the same as (730)
Parts of Speech
Noun Feminine
Word Definition [ Thayer | Strong | Mounce ]
Thayer's Definition
  1. a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action
    1. virtue, moral goodness
  2. any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity
Hebrew Equivalent Words:
Strong #: 1935 ‑ הוֹד (hode);  8416 ‑ תְּהִלָּה (teh‑hil‑law');  
Frequency Lists  [ Book | Word | Parsing ]
Verse Results
KJV (5) NAS (5) HCS (5)
Philippians 1
1 Peter 1
2 Peter 2
Philippians 1
1 Peter 1
2 Peter 2
Philippians 1
1 Peter 1
2 Peter 3

Liddell-Scott-Jones Definitions

ἀρετή [ ], ,


1. goodness, excellence, of any kind, in Hom. esp. of manly qualities, ποδῶν ἀρετὴν ἀναφαίνων Il. 20.411; ἀμείνων παντοίας ἀρετὰς ἠμὲν πόδας ἠδὲ μάχεσθαι καὶ νόον 15.642; so of the gods, τῶν περ καὶ μείζων ἀ. τιμή τε βίη τε 9.498; also of women, Od. 2.206; ἀ. εἵνεκα for valour, Hdt. 8.92: pl., ἀ. ἀπεδείκνυντο displayed brave deeds, Id. 1.176, 9.40. later, of the gods, chiefly in pl., glorious deeds, wonders, miracles, SIG 1172, Str. 17.1.17; ζῶσαι ἀ. IG 14.966, cf. 1 Peter 2:9 : also in sg., ὄψιν ἰδοῦσα ἀρετὴν τῆς θεοῦ IG 2.1426 b, cf. Isyll. 62, BSA 21.169,180.

2. generally, excellence, ἡ ἀ. τελείωσίς τις Arist. Metaph. 1021b20, cf. EN 1106a15, etc.; of persons, ἄνδρα πὺξ ἀρετὰν εὑρόντα Pi. O. 7.89, cf. P. 4.187, B. 9.13, etc.; τὸ φρονεῖν ἀ. μεγίστη Heraclit. 112: in pl., forms of excellence, μυρίαι ἀνδρῶν ἀ. B. 13.8, cf. Gorg. Fr. 8, etc.; δικαστοῦ αὕτη ἀ. Pl. Revelation 18:1-24 a; esp. moral virtue, Democr. 179, 263, al., Gorg. Fr. 6; opp. κακία, X. Mem. 2.1.21, cf. Pl. R. 500d, Lg. 963a, 963c sq., D. 60.17, Arist. EN 1102a6, Pol. 1295a37, etc.; good nature, kindness, etc., E. Fr. 163. of animals, things, as land, Hdt. 4.198, 7.5, Th. 1.2; ἡ ἐν ἀρετῇ κειμένη γῆ productive land, PTeb. 5.165 (ii B. C.); ἵππου Hdt. 3.88; κυνῶν, ἵππων, Pl. R. 335b; σκεύους ib. 601d; [ ἀστακοῦ ] Archestr. Fr. 24; ἀ. βίου Pl. R. 618c; πολιτείας Lg. 886b, etc.

3. prosperity, Od. 13.45.

II ἀ. εἴς τινα active merit, good service done him, ἐς τοὺς Ἕλληνας Th. 3.58, cf. 2.40; ἀ. περί τινα X. An. 1.4.8; ἀνταποδοῦναι ἀ. Th. 4.19; ἀρετὰς παρασχέσθαι ὑπέρ τινος D. 19.312; ἀρετῆς ἕνεκα, freq. in honorary Inscrr., IG 22.107.14, etc.

III reward of excellence, distinction, fame, πλούτῳ δ' ἀρετὴ καὶ κῦδος ὀπηδεῖ Hes. Op. 313, cf. Sapph. 80, Pi. N. 5.53, al.; ἀθάνατος ἀ. S. Ph. 1420, Pl. Smp. 208d; ἃ ἆθλα τοῦ πολέμου τοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἐστίν, ἐλευθερία καὶ ἀ. Lycurg. 49; of God, δόξα καὶ ἀ. 2 Peter 1:3 : in pl., glories, Thgn. 30, Pi. N. 10.2, al.; πλοῦτος ἀρεταῖς δεδαιδαλμένος Id. O. 2.53; γενναίων ἀ. πόνων E. HF 357 (lyr.), cf. Lys. 2.26; προγόνων ἀ. Pl. R. 618b; in LXX freq. of the praises of God, Isaiah 42:8, al. Ἀρετή personified, Prodic. 1, Arist. Fr. 675, Callix. 2, CIG 2786, SIG 985.10, etc. ἡ ἀ. σου as a title, Your worship, PLips. 13 ii 20, etc. an engine of war, Ath.Mech. 38.11. a plaster, Androm. ap. Gal. 13.531.

Thayer's Expanded Definition

ἀρετή, ἀρετῆς, (see ἄρα at the beginning), a word of very wide signification in Greek writings; any excellence of a person (in body or mind) or of a thing, an eminent endowment, property or quality. Used of the human mind and in an ethical sense, it denotes:

1. a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action; virtue, moral goodness (Wis. 4:1 Wis. 5:13; often in 4 Macc. and in Greek writings): 2 Peter 1:5 (others take it here specifically, viz. moral vigor; cf. next entry).

2. any particular moral excellence, as modesty, purity; hence (plural αἱ ἀρεταί, Wis. 8:7; often in 4 Macc. and in the Greek philosophers) τίς ἀρετή, Philippians 4:8. Used of God, it denotes a. his power: 2 Peter 1:3.

b. in the plural his excellences, perfections, 'which shine forth in our gratuitous calling and in the whole work of our salvation' (John Gerhard): 1 Peter 2:9. (In the Sept. for הוד splendor, glory, Habakkuk 3:3, of God; Zechariah 6:13, of the Messiah; in plural for תְּהִלּות praises, of God, Isaiah 43:21; Isaiah 42:12; Isaiah 63:7.)

Thayer's Expanded Greek Definition, Electronic Database.
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All rights rserved. Used by permission.
Abbott-Smith Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament

ἀρετή , -ῆς , ,

[in LXX, in sing.: Habakkuk 3:3, Zechariah 6:13 (H1935), in pl.: Isaiah 42:8; Isaiah 42:12; Isaiah 43:21; Isaiah 63:7 (H8416), Wisdom of Solomon 4:1; Wisdom of Solomon 5:13; Wisdom of Solomon 8:7; 2-4Mac.22 *;]

prop., whatever procures pre-eminent estimation for a person or thing, in Hom. any kind of conspicuous advantage. Later confined by philos. writers to intrinsic eminence-moral goodness, virtue;

(a) of God: 2 Peter 1:3;

(b) of men: Philippians 4:8, 2 Peter 1:5; pl. (Isa, Es, ll. c.), excellencies: 1 Peter 2:9 (the usage appears to be a survival of an early comprehensive sense in which the original idea is blended with the impression which it makes on others, i.e. praise, renown; v. Hort, 1 Pe., 129. Deiss., BS, 95 f., thinks it means manifestations of divine power, as in current Gk. speech; cf. also MM, s.v.)†

Abbott-Smith Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament.
Copyright © 1922 by G. Abbott-Smith, D.D., D.C.L.. T & T Clarke, London.
Vocabulary of the Greek NT

The limitation of this word to four occurrences in NT—and two of them in 2 Pet—may possibly be connected with the very width of its significance in non-Christian ethics : it had not precision enough for large use in Christian language. If Brugmann is right in connecting it with ἀρέ -σκω (Kurzgef. vergl. Gr. p. 519), this vagueness was there from the first. Our ";virtue"; is too narrow for a word which had nearly all the forces of our adj. ";good"; : cf. Prof. G. Murray Greek Epic, p. 57. Some Κοινή instances may be quoted. P Hib I. 15.85 ff. (a rhetorical exercise, about B.C. 280–40) : the younger men are exhorted to employ their bodies εὐκαίρως τὴν ἀπόδειξιν ποιησαμένους τῆς αὐτῶν ἀρετῆς, ";in a timely display of their prowess"; (Edd.) In the ordinance of Ptolemy Euergetes II., P. Tebt I. 5.165 ff. (B.C. 118), certain officials are warned not τὴν ἐν ἀρετῆι κειμένην βα (σιλικὴν) γῆν παραιρεῖσθαι τῶν γεω (ργῶν) μηδὲ ἐπὶ ἐγλογῆι γεωργεῖν, ";to take the richest Crown land from the cultivators by fraud or cultivate it at choice."; The editors quote Hesychius ἀρετῶσιν · ἀρεταίνωσιν, εὐδαιμονῶσιν, ἐν ἀρετῇ ὦσιν. It is thus possible that we have here earlier evidence for ἀρεταί = laudes in the LXX (see Deissmann BS p. 95 f., Hort 1 Pet p. 128 f.), as if ";land in esteem."; The other new meaning brought out by Deissmann (ut supra) ";manifestation of power"; (as 2 Peter 1:3) may also be further illustrated. Thus in Syll 784.2 (iv/B.C.) Ἀθηνάαι Μένεια ἀνέθηκεν ὄψιν ὶδοῦσα ἀρετὴν τῆς θεοῦ, Dittenberger quotes with approval Foucart’s definition of ἀρετή as signifying ";vim divinam quae mirabilem in modum hominibus laborantibus salutem afferret."; Cf. ib. 806.10 (Crete, early Empire) πλείονας ἀρετὰ [ς τοῦ θεοῦ ] and ib. 807.5 (c. ii/A.D.) where after a miraculous restoration of a blind man the people rejoice ὅτι ζῶσαι ἀρεταὶ ἐγένοντο ἐπὶ τοῦ Σεβαστοῦ ἡμῶν Ἀντωνείνου. There is suggestive force in this rejoicing of the pagan crowd to find that ";powers"; of Asclepios were still ";alive"; in those dark days.

A few miscellaneous references may be added. With the list of virtues in 2 Peter 1:5 f., cf. OGIS 438.6 ff. (i/B.C.) ἄνδρα ἀγαθὸν γενόμενον καὶ διενένκαντα πίστει καὶ ἀρετῇ καὶ δ [ικ ]αιοσύνῃ καὶ εὐσεβείαι καὶ περὶ το (ῦ κ)ο (ι)ν [οῦ ] συνφέροντος τὴν πλείστ [η ]ν εἰσενηνεγμένον σπουδήν (see BS p. 360ff., LAE p. 322). In the invitation to celebrate Hadrian’s accession to the Imperial throne, the new Emperor is described as one ὧι πάντα δοῦλα [δι᾽ ἀρετὴν κ [αὶ ] πατρὸς τύχην θεοῦ (P Giss I. 3.5 f.). A sepulchral epigram from Hermupolis (PSI 17vi. 2, iii/A.D.) begins—[Ο ]ὐ γὰρ ἐν ἀνθρώποισιν ἐὼν ἐβάδιζεν ἐκείνην τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν ἀρετῆς οὐκ ἐκάθηρε θέμις. And in the later papyri the word is frequent as a title of courtesy, e.g. P Oxy I. 60.4ff. (A.D. 323) ἀκολούθως τοῖς κελευσθῖσι ὑπὸ τῆς ἀρετῆς τοῦ κυρίου μου διασημοτάτου ἡγεμόνος Σαβινιανοῦ, ib. 71ii. 18 (A.D. 303) εἴ σου δόξειεν τῇ ἀρετῇ : cf. P Lips I. 40ii. 20, iii. 9, .18 (iv/v A.D.), P Grenf II. 90.11 (vi/A.D.) al. The same usage is found in Jos. Antt. xii. 53 : cf. our ";Excellency.";


The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament.
Copyright © 1914, 1929, 1930 by James Hope Moulton and George Milligan. Hodder and Stoughton, London.
Derivative Copyright © 2015 by Allan Loder.
List of Word Forms
αρετας αρετάς ἀρετὰς αρετη αρετή ἀρετὴ ἀρετῇ αρετην αρετήν ἀρετήν αρετης αρετής ἀρετῆς aretas aretàs arete aretē aretḕ aretêi aretē̂i areten aretēn aretḗn
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