Is that “new” or “new”?

Those who study the Bible will know that sometimes one English word is used in our English Bibles to translate more than one word in the original language. This is true in the New Testament, where we read of things “new”. As you will see from the articles below , the Greek words translated “new” are not always synonyms, but have individual meanings. Appreciation of sometimes subtle differences can add-value to our Bible study. So why not read the following analysis and ponder its application.

First we give the summary conclusion on this subject from John Miller (extract of Bible Studies magazine: 1959, pg.67), then we include a more lengthy  concordance study by James Martin (extracted from Bible Studies magazine, 1937 pages 38-41).

John Miller writes:

John, who saw the awful day of judgement, now sees the rapturous sight of a new heaven and a new earth, and the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. “New” in each of the three cases is the Greek word Kainos. There are two words in the Greek for “new,” Kainos and Neos. Kainos means new, recent, recently made, not had before. Neos means new, fresh, young, youthful. The old heaven and earth are not put through a refining process and turned out new, rejuvenated in youth and freshness. We are told that the first earth and heaven passed away, and in Rev.20:11 we are told that ” there was found no place for them. ” In 2 Pet.3:10,12 we are told that the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and that the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Again it is said that we look for new heavens and a new earth (Kainos in both cases) wherein dwelleth righteousness. There can be no doubt that ” new ” in these cases does not mean the renewal of the old earth and heaven, but new in the sense that they were not before. This fact is strengthened by what is said in Heb.1:10-12, where we are told that the earth and the heavens shall perish, that they shall wax old as a garment, and be rolled up like a mantle, and as a garment they shall be changed. We know what is meant by changing a worn-out garment. It is not renovated to become a new one. It is put off and changed for a new one, one that we had not before. It is more difficult to understand what heaven shall pass away. There are three heavens: (1) the firmament or expanse which was made on the second day of Genesis 1, which God called heaven; this was a heaven for the renewed earth: (2) the heaven which God created with the earth in the beginning; (3) and the third heaven (Paradise) (2 Cor.12:2,4), which is heaven itself (Heb.9:24), where the throne of God is (Rev.4:2,3). It may be that it is the heavens (1) and (2) that will be dissolved and pass away, and their place will be taken by a new heaven. About this we would not be definite, but leave it to the reader to consider. God says, “Behold, I make all things new,” which must not be read, “Behold, I make old things new.” French says of Kainos, “new, not under aspects of time, but of quality, the new as set over against that which has seen service, the outworn, the effete or marred through age, and this is Kainos.”

James Martin writes:


” New.”

Two interesting words are used in the Greek New Testament for the word translated ” NEW ” in our English version. They are Neos and Kainos, and are not exactly synonymous in meaning :
  Neos is “new in the sense of age, young, or numerically.”
  Kainos is “new in the sense of quality, as set against that which has seen service, the outworn, effete, marred through age, and is qualitative.”

For students who have a little knowledge of other languages we might put it thus. Neos is the Latin recens and refers to time: Kainos is the Latin novas and refers to a thing or the condition of the thing. English words derived from the Latin will easily suggest themselves to the mind—”recent” meaning “of late origin,” and “novice” meaning “one new in anything.”

From a study of the concordance it will be evident, that both these Greek words are used, apparently interchangeably, with certain words.
For example, we read of:
Neos.                                                       Kainos.
New wine. Matt.9:17, etc.              Drink it new. Matt.26:29.
New man, Col.3:10.                          New man, Eph.2:15; 4:24.
New covenant. Heb.12:24.           New covenant, Heb.8: 8; Heb.8:12; Heb.9:15.

‘Ere studying more closely the grade of difference in meaning in the phrases above, a few more examples of the words or their compounds will be helpful.

Neos. In Tit.2:4 the R.V. rendering is “young woman.” Compounds are found in Jn 21:18, young; Acts 5:6, young men; 1 Tim.4:12, youth.
Here the sense of age is seen. A helpful comparison with the last example (1 Tim.4:12) is Rom.6:4 where we have the word “newness” of life from the root Kainos, that is a life of an entirely different quality and not “youth” merely.
A classical writer uses both these words in one sentence to describe soldiers who were nearly deceived by a stratagem, and by this he meant that they were young (Neos) in age, and raw (Kainos) and inexperienced in affairs.

Kainos. A few interesting examples of the use of this word and its compounds will help. The new tomb (Matt.27:60) was a tomb never previously used, not sullied by any dead bones, but not necessarily one just recently hewn out by or for Joseph of Arimathea. This is in keeping with the teaching of scripture that death involves uncleanness (e.g.. Num.19:16, Matt.23:27. etc.). This thought is characteristic of all things associated with the Lord or His things (e.g. a colt never before sat upon. Lk.19:30; a new cart, 1 Sam.6:7. even if devised by heathen priests; a new cruse, 2 Kgs.2:20).

New garments in Lk.5:30, where the contrast is with one threadbare and worn-out, should also be read in the light of Matt.9:16 or Matt.2:21. where the Greek word “agraphos,” meaning unfinished or unsmoothed, is used for “new” (A.V.) “undressed” (R.V.)

New wineskins, in Lk.5:38 and Matt.9:17, bears the meaning that the skins were still strong and not worn-out by age, and not that they had recently been manufactured.

New heavens (2 Pet.3:13) are heavens of a type different from the present, whose end is described, in contrast, in Heb.1:11,12.

New tongues (Mk.16:17) are the tongues given in Acts 2:4 and described there as “other tongues.” From Acts 2:7,8 we learn that these were known languages, and not a sort of made-up gibberish. The word used in Mk.16:17 bears this meaning out. It was not to be newly-created languages or sounds like those some people in these days utter, and claim to be speech in unknown tongues. No, they were to be different tongues from their own native tongues and in that case new to the speakers. If Neos had been used there would have been a suggestion of a recently or newly made language, such even as esperanto, etc.

It is therefore of much interest to note that all that affects the future kingdom state is Kainos:
The new Jerusalem. Rev.3:12; 21:2.
The new name, Rev.2:17; 3:12.
The new song, Rev.5:9; 14:3.
The new heaven and new earth, Rev.21:1; 2 Pet.3:13.
All things new, Rev.21:5.

Generally, new things surpass old in value and are more praiseworthy. There are exceptions, of course, in “old” wine and “old” friends. So it may be that the scribes and Pharisees, who said, “what is this?—a new (Kainos) teaching” (Mk.1:27) merely meant that they were listening to something novel or strange. Thanks be to God it was a teaching so much different from that to which they were accustomed—it had in it the very core of the love of God. In Acts 17:19-21, the Athenians came to hear some new (Kainos) doctrine, that is, so diverse from that to which they had been wont to listen, that it stirred up interest afresh. It was not merely “the latest” news, else Neos would have been used.

We have in a previous Concordance study (B.S., 1936, p. 104) pointed out that the renewing of Eph.4:23 is derivatively “to make young again,” and that of Col.3:10 is “to make new again.” Alford has epitomised the subtlety of meaning as follows :—
Ananeoo (Eph.4:23) is “renewal in the youth of the new man,” and
Anakamoo (Col.3:10) is more “renewal from the age of the old man.”
Further he considers Neos is used “as regards the new nature and growth of it,” and Kainos is used “of a nature opposed to the former self.”

In the light of these examples we can more fully understand a wine, a covenant, or a man to be both Neos or Kainos, but from different viewpoints.

A wine that is Neos (and this is the word most frequently used of wine) is of this year’s vintage, and will not have completed its fermentation. It is wont to break through the container, unless the latter be new or not outworn (Kainos is the word used for new skins).

But when the Lord Jesus shall drink it new (Kainos) in His Father’s kingdom (Matt.26:29) it shall partake of all the quality that we have noted above in things pertaining to that future glorious kingdom. We are unable to visualise what this means, for the feast with which it is contrasted is to us the very sweetest—the Remembrance Feast (Matt.26:20-29).

The new (Neos) man of Col.3:10 is the newly born-again man and it is asserted that the old man, which dates back to Adam, has died and a new-born man now exists. As such he is being renewed (root Kainos) until he grows more and more like Christ. As one has written, “the image of God in Christ is a far more glorious thing than Adam ever had or could have had.”

The new (Kainos) man of Eph.4:24 is viewed rather as to his quality or condition and not as to his age; and he has had some bad habits which have grown old and useless for his changed state, therefore, they should be cast off like a snake’s useless skin. This man had been taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus, and had so learned Christ. Such a man is a new (Kainos) creature (2 Cor.5:17) and he should ever keep young (renewed in Eph.4:23 has the root Neos) this entirely new nature. The correct element for this is that in which he was created new (Kainos), that is, in righteousness and in holiness of truth.

The one new (Kainos) man of Eph.2:15, we suggest, is the great mystery hid till then (Eph.3), the Church, the body, joined to the living head Christ, and this was accomplished by reconciling Jew and Gentile, not simply to each other, but both unto God through the Cross. Thus this “new” man is unique, unlike anything gone before.

The new (Neos) Covenant of Heb.12:21 is new or young as compared with the Mosaic covenant, which had been confirmed nearly 2,000 years prior to the date at which Hebrews was written.

The new (Kainos) covenant of Heb.8:18 is one which is virile and quickening as compared to that of Moses, which was becoming old and waxing aged and nigh unto vanishing away. And we see from Heb.8:8-12 that this new (Kainos) covenant vouchsafes to Israel future wondrous blessings far surpassing even the greatest height reached under Solomon, under the law. The mediator of this new covenant offered Himself without blemish, and having died has obtained redemption for sin committed under the first covenant, and also an eternal inheritance for His heirs.

Heb.10:20 supplies one more interesting word translated “new”. It is prosphatos and means derivatively, “lately slain.” Thus the way of access into the holy place is in the blood of Jesus who is now alive for evermore.
Jas. M.

For those wanting to study this further, different possible approaches are discussed in the Appendix to the book Finger of Prophecy, available from Hayes Press

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