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Bible Lexicons

Trench's Synonyms of the New Testament


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pnoe (Strong's #4157) Wind

pneuma (Strong's #4151)

anemos (Strong's #417)

lailaps (Strong's #2978) Storm

thyella (Strong's #2366) Tempest

We will discuss pneuma in its natural, earthly sense, not in its supernatural, heavenly meaning. Pnoe, pneuma, and anemos designate earthly things and differ from one another exactly as do the Latin aër (air), spiritus (breeze), and ventus (wind). Seneca noted: "Motion separates breeze [spiritus] from wind [ventus], for a more violent breeze [spiritus] is wind [ventus]; a lightly flowing breeze [spiritus] in turn is air [aër]."

Pnoe and pneuma frequently occur together, as in Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 57:16. Pnoe refers to a lighter, gentler motion of the air than pneuma, just as aura (gentle breeze) refers to a lighter motion than ventus (wind). Aristotle remarked: "The breezes [pneumata] blowing in the atmosphere we call winds [anemous], but those accompanied by dampness we term vapors [ekpnoai]."Pliny recognized a similar distinction: "Air [aër] is moved by some breeze [spiritu]; more often however it causes gentle breezes [auras] than winds [ventos]. " Philo stated: "He spoke of pnoe but not pneuma as there is a difference; for pneuma is thought of according to its strength and vigor and force, while pnoe is a gentle breeze and a quiet and calm exhalation." In one of its two New Testament occurrences ( Acts 2:2), however, pnoe is used with biaia (Strong's #972) and clearly refers to a strong and vehement wind (cf. Job 37:9). As De Wette observed, this may be accounted for by the fact that on this occasion it was necessary to reserve pneuma for the higher spiritual gift of which pnoe was the sign and symbol. To have used pneuma would have introduced a perplexing repetition.

Pneuma is seldom used in the New Testament ( John 3:8; Hebrews 1:7) to mean "wind," though often it is used in that sense in the Septuagint ( Genesis 8:1; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Ezekiel 37:9). Rûah (Strong's #7307) in Ecclesiastes 11:5 is translated by "spirit," not "wind" ( Job 1:19; Psalm 148:8), in our Authorized Version, which is unfortunate because it obscures the remarkable connection between the Preacher's saying and Jesus' words to Nicodemus ( John 3:8). Jesus loved to use the Old Testament. His words "the wind blows where it wishes" echo the words of Ecclesiastes "and you do not know what is the way of the wind. " The Preacher had already indicated that the winds are symbols for mysteries that are higher than man can trace. Pneuma often appears in the Septuagint in connection with pnoe but generally is used in a figurative sense ( 2 Samuel 22:16; Job 33:4; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 57:16).

Aristotle gave this account of anemos:"Wind [anemos] is nothing but a large amount of air flowing together, which is also called pneuma [breeze]."Hippocrates said: "Wind [anemos] is a current and stream of air." Like ventus and wind, anemos is usually the strong, often tempestuous, wind. It is interesting to observe that in the inspired account of Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus (which probably took place in Aramaic), the writer did not use anemos but pneuma to draw an analogy between the natural world and the mysterious movements of the Holy Spirit. Undoubtedly the writer chose pneuma because there is nothing fierce or violent in the measured operation of the Spirit. When Paul wanted to describe men violently blown about on a sea of error, however, he described them as "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind [anemo] of doctrine" ( Ephesians 4:14; cf. Judges 1:12 with2Peter2:17).

The derivation of lailaps is uncertain. This word is probably formed by reduplication and is meant to imitate in sound what it represents. It occurs three times in the New Testament ( Mark 4:37; Luke 8:23; 2 Peter 2:17) and slightly more often in the Septuagint. It refers to a formidable kind of squall. J. H. H. Schmidt has a careful and full discussion on the whole group of words used for wind and weather and associated phenomena. Concerning lailaps he wrote: "The ancients quite generally understood it to denote a storm raging back and forth unstably, breaking forth from dark clouds and accompanied by torrential rains." The examples he gave support this statement. As Hesychius explained, it is "a whirling of wind [anemou] with rain." Suidas added the further notion of darkness. Homer always associated kelaine and eremne with lailaps, implying that the darkness that accompanies the latter should not be ignored.

Whenever it occurs in the Septuagint ( Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:22; Exodus 10:22), thyella is used with gnophos (Strong's #1105). In the New Testament, thyella is used only in Hebrews 12:18, where it sounds more like its Septuagintal usage than other words the writer might have employed. Schmidt distinguished thyella from the Homeric aella, but we will not discuss these differences. Thyella often refers to a wilder and fiercer natural phenomenon than lailaps and frequently refers to the conflicted mingling of many opposing winds, as in a turbulent cyclone.

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Bibliography Information
Trench, Richard C. Entry for 'Wind'. Synonyms of the New Testament. 1854.

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