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"Non enim in sermone (λόγω) est regnum Dei, sed in virtute (δυνάμει)." —1 Cor. 4

Started by Geremia, October 11, 2016, 10:11:10 AM

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 I don't think ἐνέργεια appears anywhere in the New Testament, but δύναμις does 56×!

There are several verses relating λόγος and δύναμις:
  • 1 Cor. 1:18: "Verbum (λόγος) enim crucis pereuntibus quidem stultitia est: iis autem qui salvi fiunt, id est nobis, Dei virtus (δύναμις) est."
  • 1 Cor. 2:4: "et sermo (λόγος) meus, et prædicatio mea non in persuasibilibus humanæ sapientiæ verbis (λόγοις), sed in ostensione spiritus et virtutis (δυνάμεως)"
  • 1 Cor. 4:19-20: "...cognoscam non sermonem (λόγον) eorum qui inflati sunt, sed virtutem (δύναμιν). Non enim in sermone (λόγω) est regnum Dei, sed in virtute (δυνάμει)."
    • v. 20 is quoted in Imitation (ch. 42, "Against vain and worldly knowledge"):
      Quote"My Son, let not the fair and subtle sayings of men move thee. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. Give ear to My words, for they kindle the heart and enlighten the mind, they bring contrition, and they supply manifold consolations. Never read thou the word that thou mayest appear more learned or wise; but study for the mortification of thy sins, for this will be far more profitable for thee than the knowledge of many difficult questions."
  • 2 Cor. 6:7: "in verbo veritatis (λόγω αληθείας), in virtute (δυνάμει) Dei, per arma justitiæ a dextris et a sinistris..."
  • 1 Thes. 1:5: "quia Evangelium nostrum non fuit ad vos in sermone (λόγω) tantum, sed et in virtute (δυνάμει), et in Spiritu Sancto, et in plenitudine multa, sicut scitis quales fuerimus in vobis propter vos."
These verses show the difference between human wisdom and God's wisdom, ideologies and truth, and the Kingdom of Man and that of God.

Δύναμις seems to have a much larger extension than virtus ("manliness," from vir), but why not ἐνέργεια? Wouldn't ἐνέργεια be more suited to describe the One Who is Pure Actuality? Perhaps δύναμις is a more fitting word to describe how God's omnipotence can coexist with His meekness?


My friend answered:
QuoteThe word ἐνέργεια does actually appear a couple of times in the New Testament, especially in relation to supernatural faith, that is, to describe a divine operation in the soul. The following passage is most interesting because it precisely combines ἐνέργεια/ἐνέργειαν/ἐνεργουμένην (lit. the "action"/"acting", "effectuation", "work") and δύναμις/δυνάμει (the "power", "force", "virtue", "strength"):

Colossians 1:29: "in quo et laboro, certando secundum operationem [ἐνέργειαν] ejus, quam operatur [ἐνεργουμένην] in me in virtute [δυνάμει]."

Both are therefore connected with the first being an invisible, grace-filled (supernatural) operation, and the other the enabling power put into visible practice (which is how and where virtue actually grows from in a spiritual aspirant).   

If we look at the square/imperial script Aramaic text from apostolic time Peshitta lectionaries, the divine effectuation of grace (in Greek ἐνέργεια) is simply (but no less accurately) described as "help" (מעדרנותא).

The word for "power" (חילא) is directly borrowed from the Hebraic Old Testament (see, for example, in Proverbs 31:10, where the virtuous woman is referred to as a "woman of strength", using the exact same word [חַיִל], accurately translated by St. Jerome as "mulierem fortem").

Ενέργεια/ἐνέργειας describes the working of physical (e.g. electrical) and supraphysical activity or energy. The parallel with electrical action or energy seems to me highly meaningful because "In the Beginning" [lit. "In the Head/Principle of Six"] was differentiation wherefrom springs all motion, matter, and life. The analogy with physical charge separation once struck me from the precise fact that Genesis 1:4 speaks, analogously, about "light" and "separation" as an intrinsic effect of the divine creative might undergirding the whole work of the Hexaemeron:

"And He separated [וַיַּבְדֵּל]..."

This is hugely significant because, in Greek, the notion of "mightiness" behind the effect brought about in the work of creation implies, not only δύναμις/-μη, but also κραταιότητα/-της, from the root κρτ, "cutting", "separating" (κωριστός), "ramifying", "dividing", and its primordial version χρ, as in "[...] He separated/divided [διεχρισεν]..." (in Gen 1:4 according to LXX). The correlation between the lexical field of many terms derivable from κρτ (separating, cutting, differentiating, branching off,...) and the theological notion of creative might is beautifully summarized in the word Παντοκράτωρ, which rightly means "Almighty".

Thus to have might in the specific and exclusive sense in which the only all-powerful One has it is likewise to display παντοδυναμία, which does "describe how God's omnipotence can coexist with His meekness", as His act of creating is altogether true sheer power (δύναμις) in action (ἐνέργεια) and utter ease (gentle effortlessness). For, "the One Who is Pure Actuality" does not need to produce any effort whatsoever to bring anything about/to act.

Furthermore, notice that the Greek word εξουσία, εξ- (prep. "out of") + ουσία ("essense" or "substance") is semantically strictly identical to ἐνέργεια. The semantic equivalence simply reveals a deeper ontological truth, namely the fact that ἐνέργεια is involved in bringing about or giving ex-istance to ουσίες. Or, to put it another way, ουσίες are forms of ἐνέργεια, and, as such, stand "out of" the latter (i.e. manifest it as matter manifests energy).