Each Tuesday, I’ll try to text a word found in the Bible and draw some insight from it through some Hebrew and Greek study, using Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
Today’s word: Enemy
Both Old Testament words for enemy: verb (oyeeb) and noun (sar) give an underlying idea of “hate” or “hostility” or “adversary.” It’s worth noting, that Satan is never described by either of these words in the OT. A famous enemy character in the OT is Haman in Esther who was hell-bent on the destruction of the Jews while they were in Persian captivity.
The New Testament Greek word (echthros) carries a similar idea. An enemy is one who opposes you. Mounce makes a theological statement about the use of enemy in the NT, “A child of God may have enemies but is not to be an enemy toward another person.” In contrast, “enemy” is used to describe both Satan and death in the NT.
The biblical idea of enemy is important. It is healthy to acknowledge that there is a category for “enemies” in the life of the believer. The challenging call of Jesus, however, is to not seek their absence from our lives because we are at odds with them. The call of the gospel is to love our enemies, to pray for them, and even to suffer long with them. May God give us the grace to do so.