Exploring Bible Words – (Hapax Legomana) χρηστολογία chréstologia

I’ve been looking at words in the New Testament that are used only one time, regardless of their form. Such words have been given the name Hapax Legomana by linguists. Often these are rare words in the Greek language or a compound word.

The case here in Romans 16:18 for chrestologia is a compound word taken from the words chrestos which can mean pleasant, kindly, easy to wear, plausible and logos with the simple meaning of word or speech. Paul writes concerning words that sound plausible and kindly, but in fact, are hiding an ulterior motive. 

Paul is constantly on the lookout for wolves that are ready to attack the flock of Christ. He highlights and warns of these dangers throughout his epistles.

I’m reminded of one of the more touching scenes of Paul’s ministry. As he concludes his third missionary journey and has set his sight on Jerusalem, he is continually warned by the Spirit about what will await him there. This culminates in Acts 21:11 when Agabus prophecies about the fact that Paul will be led away in bondage and handed over to the Gentiles. This is the very set of circumstances that will lead Paul to Rome. But we get a glimpse of Paul in Miletus as he departs the works that he has labored with for so long in Asia Minor and in Greece.  

Paul sends for the Ephesian elders, where he had labored for three years and had been persecuted. They make the journey (about 30 miles) to see him before he departs. When they arrive he tells them his plans Acts 20:18-35. He tells them that this will be the last time they see him. In verses 29-32 he warns them about people who will come “speaking perverse things” and drawing members of the congregation away. 

After he speaks and prays with them, he leaves and in verse 37 we have the touching scene of them weeping, hugging, and kissing him as he departs. 

Paul’s warnings should speak to us today. There are people in the world who, with “smooth talk” as this word is translated in the ESV or “good words” as it is translated in the KJV, will “deceive the hearts of the simple.” 

There are many who like to argue against the Christian life. They speak in smooth tones, often masking their true intentions in kindness. These things sound plausible and good but lead to destruction. It is important that we look to the true Word of God and “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”