Pentecost: Turning Babel Upside Down

“Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now”

That sounds pretty good, huh? A call for all men to come together, work for the common good and love each other. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Thousands of years ago, on the plains of Shinar (probably in modern-day Iraq), people wanted the same thing. It was shortly after the Flood, and people migrated from the east, all speaking the same language. It was probably a guy named Nimrod who said, “Look, let’s stay together, build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches into the heavens. We need to make a name for ourselves, establish ourselves so we won’t get spread out over the face of the whole earth.” And they set about to do just that.

I’ve come to realize that most people don’t spend a lot of time reading about biblical history, ancient religions and stuff. But I do. (I know-get a life!) There’s no way to get into it all right now, but let me just say that there are scholars, theologians and the like who believe that that city was built and centered around religion. A religion that, many contend, is the mother of all paganism. Spreading throughout Canaan, and eventually evolving and morphing into some of the religions we have with us today. (“The Mother of Harlots”?) I could go on (I’m resisting the temptation to do so.), but the gist of the point I’m trying to make is that these people wanted to establish humanity as one “tribe,” unified, and even religious. But they wanted nothing to do with God. The worship of the Creator, the God of the Flood (an event from which they weren’t that far removed) was exchanged far the worship of man and creation.

Most of us know at least part of this story- The Tower of Babel. God came down, confused their language and dispersed them over the face of the earth. Our quest for a one-world, anthropocentric system of governance and religion was thwarted-for the time being. But we weren’t (and still aren’t) done by a long shot. But fortunately, neither was God.

Enter Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus arrived, ushering in the kingdom of God. His life, death and resurrection hailed the summing up of all things in himself. And he promised that, upon his return to the Father, he would send the Spirit of God to fill and empower his disciples. This happened on the day of Pentecost. As on the plains of Shinar, the disciples were all gathered in “one accord.” But this gathering was not centered around man, but on the Son of God who became flesh. As the Spirit was poured out, instead of man’s language being confused, the languages of men were made one. People from every nation under the sun could hear the disciples declaring the mighty works of God in their own tongues. True unity was experienced as men and women from around the globe became one- a new holy race in Jesus.

I believe that today we find ourselves once again on “the plains of Shinar.” And if you listen, you can hear the rumblings of “the beast.” Mankind again longs for one “tribe,” unified, and even religious. But like our ancient ancestors, the people desire a one-world, anthropocentric system of governance and religion. A system that rejects the one true God. But it is only in Jesus that men can experience true unity. For it is in him alone that we are made complete. All of us one, “just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

The Tower of Babel is turned upside down by the power of Pentecost as the Spirit of God continues to fill the hearts of men and women, revealing the reality of Jesus, and our holy oneness in him.

Wax on Wax off

Maybe I’m a little touched as they say, but riding down I-85 this afternoon, I began to see similarities between the relationship of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-Son in the “Karate Kid,” and the way God’s Spirit works in the life of the believer as He conforms him to the image of Christ.

Remember how Daniel came to Mr. Miyagi? He came as a broken, bullied kid, believing that Mr. Miyagi would show him the secrets of martial arts. Daniel was thrilled to have this wonderful teacher, this savior who would show him how to defend himself. It seemed like Daniel figured that it wouldn’t take long and he’d be a master. He had preconceived ideas as to what the teacher student relationship looked like, and the methods the teacher should use to bring him along. Not so fast Daniel –Son!

The so-called lessons begin and Mr. Miyagi makes Daniel wash and wax his cars, paint his fence, and “sand the floor!” Daniel was a good kid, he did as he was told, but after a while; it all seemed like such a waste of time. He had been promised that he would be taught karate, that he would become a fighter, not be some old man’s personal slave.

 Mr. Miyagi: “You in karate training.”
Daniel: “I’m what? I’m being your [expletive] slave is what I’m being, man. Now, we made a deal here.”
Mr. Miyagi: “So.”
Daniel: “So, so, you’re supposed to teach and I’m supposed to learn, remember? For four days I’ve been bustin’ my [expletive] and haven’t learned a [expletive] thing!”
Mr. Miyagi: “You learn plenty.”
Daniel: “I learn plenty! I learned how to sand your decks maybe. I learned how to wash a car, paint your house, and paint your fence. I’ve learned plenty. Right.”
Mr. Miyagi: “Not everything is as it seems.”

Daniel couldn’t see that Mr. Miyagi was indeed keeping his end of the bargain. He had no idea what was being done to him, how he was being changed. So often, we respond to the Spirit’s teaching the way Daniel responded to Mr. Miyagi.

We come to the Lord, and we have all these preconceived, Westernized, Hollywood ideas about the Christian walk. We figure it won’t take long and we will have arrived.  When we encounter the valleys, the hard times, and suffering, we look to the Lord and say, “You promised to teach me!  You said I’d be like you; now all I’m doing is sanding Your floors and waxing Your cars! Why are you allowing this to happen to me?” Like Daniel-Son, we don’t comprehend what is being done in and to us. We balk at the hardship, not understanding that it is the trials themselves that are producing in us an “eternal weight of glory!” God’s Spirit is at work in us, transforming us into the image of the Son. He knows that the way to do this involves our sanding some floors, painting some fences, and waxing some cars. “I promise teach karate. That’s my pact. You promise learn. I say, you do. No question. That your pact.”

In the end, Daniel-Son did become that great fighter. (He also got a really cool vintage car as a gift from Mr. Miyagi.) What lies in store for you is beyond comparison:

“There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” (I Peter 1:6-9)


Another like the Other

As the cross came nearer and the hour of his departure was at hand, Jesus promised the disciples that he would ask the Father, and he would send them another [H]elper who would remain with them, and then later, reside in them. It’s interesting the word John uses when he writes another [H]elper. The word in the Greek is ἄλλον / allon. The use of this particular word is important because it signifies that he is talking about another like himself, another of the same kind- Another like the Other! In fact, many theologians will use this word in discussions on the Trinity and the deity of the Holy Spirit. I really don’t want to get into a bunch of academic theology (and you’re glad I know); I just want to use this word to communicate something I think will help us in our daily lives. Walk with me.

Jesus was a Rabbi and taught using tried and true rabbinic methods during his earthly ministry. The rabbis would speak in ways so as to conceal a truth within “surface” words. They would seek to make their disciples dig for the wisdom and truth. They would say things, all the while hoping that their followers would perceive the deeper spiritual lessons they were really trying to communicate. Remember when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up on the third day.”? Well, we know that he wasn’t talking about the physical temple that stood at the time. He was talking about his death and resurrection. How about the time he told his disciples, “Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees.” The guys thought he was mad at them because they had forgotten to bring along bread on their journey. But again, Jesus desired to teach them spiritual truths. What about Philip and the feeding of the 5,000? Jesus asked Philip how they could feed so many when he knew beforehand what he planned to do. And the woman at the well, with whom he spoke of living water? Once more, he was trying to direct her into deeper, spiritual considerations. Jesus was always teaching. Everything he did and said was designed to communicate the heart of the Father. Every situation he exposed the disciples to was designed to teach them. That’s how a rabbi did it. His followers ate with him, slept with him, worked with him, lived with him, and sought to emulate him in every way. Life was the classroom. So, if in the person of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was sending us Another Helper just like himself; why would his teaching methods be any different?

Here’s my point. With the Holy Spirit as your teacher, your whole life is the classroom. So often we complain about this or that, and we fail to realize that each situation we find ourselves in can be another learning opportunity. Our first impulse is to ask God why we are going through a particular thing, when perhaps our question should be what are you trying to teach me. If we come to an understanding that the Father desires to reproduce in us the image of his Son, it will affect the way we respond to life. Now, let’s not get crazy and look for the secret meaning of the two birds that just flew overhead. Chances are, it was just two birds flying overhead. But we should pray that we discern what it is the Holy Spirit is teaching us as we find ourselves in different life scenarios. As a disciple of Jesus, God is at work in you by the presence of his Spirit to bring about that which is pleasing to him and eternally good for you, i.e. , you looking like Jesus! This happens not just by Bible study and prayer, but within the context of your everyday life.

You have received Another just like the Other, just like the Rabbi that taught his disciples in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago.  Because we are children of God, “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,” and he wants to make us like Jesus. Let us walk in the Spirit, and be taught by him. With God’s Spirit as our teacher, may we move past the obvious “knee-jerk” responses to life, and search for the treasures God has hidden within even the most trying of times. Let our prayers be not “Why Lord?” but “What Lord, what are you teaching me?” I pray that you follow so close behind your Rabbi that you are covered with his dust.

With This Ring (conclusion): The Holy Spirit as our “Arrabon”

(In the final installment of this series, we take a closer look at the “engagement ring” the Church has been given in the person of the Holy Spirit.)

It is important to keep in mind that until the time of Christ, the Jews had only known the Holy Spirit as an impersonal, invading force. He was seen as the mysterious power of God who, at times would come upon an individual in order to equip them for a specific purpose during a limited amount of time. The Jews looked upon the Holy Spirit as the mysterious ruach, the breath and wind of God. He was, to Jew, the active power of the Lord God.[1] The Jews knew that there would come a day in which the Lord God would “sprinkle them with clean water, and put his Spirit within them” (Ezekiel 36), but they had no conception as to the intimacy this indwelling Spirit would represent. But now, Messiah had come, the spirit-man had been revealed as the unique dispenser of the very Spirit of God; and, the Holy Spirit would no longer be seen as the raw, naked power of God, he would be forever clothed with the personality and character of Jesus.[2]

Paul had now come, having received the revelation that this Holy Spirit was the “other” Comforter and Teacher that Messiah had promised, and he is given to those who believe, Jew and Gentile alike, as an arrabon, assuring them that God would indeed be faithful to bring about a complete consummation of all he had promised. Because of this arrabon the very love of God had now been “shed abroad” in their hearts; they had received the Spirit of adoption which created within them a desire to cry out, “Abba.” This same Spirit would bear witness within their own hearts that they were indeed children of God. The Spirit, who had been given to them as an arrabon, would comfort them and teach them, his presence within them providing assurance as to the complete redemption “of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.”

The Spirit has been given as a pledge or deposit guaranteeing the full realization of God’s redemptive purposes. One could say, in light of what has been discussed in the writing at hand, that the church has been given a wonderful engagement ring by her Lord. For our purposes let us imagine that this ringis a magnificent four carat arrabon and that each carat represents four different aspects of the arrabon in relation to the believer.

The first carat represents the adoptive aspect of the arrabon. Although it was uncommon for Jews to practice such adoption, it was nevertheless common for the emperors of that period to adopt from outside their immediate family and acquire a successor in this way. Our arrabon accomplishes and provides to the believer sonship and all the advantages that go along with it.

The second carat is complete assurance that the believer does indeed belong to Christ. This carat speaks of belonging and provides evidence to the believer and those on the outside that he is the property of God; and as the arrabon proves the reality of the relationship of the recipient to the giver of the arrabon at the present, it proves that the relationship will be consummated in the future.

The third is an aspect of “first fruits”. Christ has risen from the dead and the believer has promise that he himself will share in this glorious resurrection in which mortality is swallowed up by immortality.

Finally, the arrabon is assurance itself. The Holy Spirit is in the believer and he speaks of Christ with absolute assurance and conviction. This assurance is beyond mere intellectual affirmation; instead, the arrabon is an absolute convincing experience, alive within the believer.[3]

The New Testament refers to the church as the bride of Christ; and, her beloved has provided her with the most glorious arrabon ever to be received. As she waits for her husband to return and receive her unto himself, as the wedding day is delayed and times become dark and discouraging, she has only to look upon the arrabon to be assured of his love and faithfulness; and, the cry of her heart becomes, “The Spirit and the bride say come.”



 1. Michael Green, I Believe in the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), 20-36.

2. Ibid., 50.

 3. Ibid.,100-102.

With This Ring (part3): The Holy Spirit as our “Arrabon”

(In part three we continue to explore the idea that by giving the Spirit as an arrabon, the eternal Lord and master of all creation has, in effect, said to his beloved, the church, “With this ring, I thee wed.”)

It is clear that the usage of arrabon was prevalent at the time the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, and if one accepts as fact divine inspiration in regards to the writing of scripture, one can quite logically infer that God himself inspired Paul to use the term arrabon, and that it has been purposefully selected to reveal an aspect of the Holy Spirit which had heretofore been unrealized. Keeping in mind the etymology and colloquialism of arrabon, as well as its pertinence within modern society, the theological impact of the Holy Spirit given as an arrabon becomes readily apparent and the significance of this act within the life of the believer reveals promise both for the present and the future.

Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, “In Him [Christ], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1: 13, 14 NASB) So far, we have established the definition of the term arrabon by exploring its etymology and the colloquialism of the period in which Paul used it.  We have learned that it is something given to an individual, “in earnest”, in assurance that full consummation will occur. Now we seek to understand the theological ramifications of this most blessed arrabon. It is perhaps a common practice among writers to bring the reader along a thoughtfully laid out path of evidential citations, making use of the volumes of academic wrote, and gradually build up (saving the best for last) to a point of climactic proportion in which the reader is finally possessed by rapturous comprehension as to the writer’s assertions. However, in the case of arrabon, the magnitude and wonder of all it represents, presents the writer with such a plethora of glorious implications that one scarcely knows where to begin. There is no need to save the best for last; as the term arrabon itself implies, “We may begin here, at this point; but, it only gets better.”

Michael Green has grasped the reality of arrabon and so he tells his readers that the Holy Spirit is a real part of the age to come, that the believer possesses right now! He refers to the Holy Spirit as the engagement ring that assures us that there is so much more to come. The Spirit is God’s “first installment”, a down payment of the future salvation we will inherit. The Holy Spirit is a part of the future, now!  “He [the Arrabon] is the heavenly Lover’s engagement ring given to us. We shall carry that engagement ring with us into God’s future, when we have the full wedding ring of final union with Christ.”[1]  This life we have in the Spirit, this arrabon we have been given, is, in fact, a taste of heaven, a likeness of the life we will have when our union with Christ is consummated.

Imagine the sublimest, most treasured experiences of the Holy Spirit we have ever had and then realize they are only a foretaste, the tip of the tongue on the spoon, of what is to come. Remember the release in coming to Christ and knowing you were forgiven? Remember that time when in worship you were smitten with awe?  Remember that time you followed the Spirit’s leading and were wonderfully used? Remember the satisfaction of finding the fruits of the Spirit with goodness   where you once responded wickedly? Think of all this and then multiply it a  millionfold. Here, on earth, we have experienced the first dollar of a million celestial dollars-the earnest. We have the dawning of knowledge, but then we will have the midday sun.[2]

Paul, in several passages of the NT, speaks of an inheritance which those in Christ have received. The Apostle Peter echoes this fact, assuring believers that there is indeed an inheritance which awaits them, an inheritance which is “imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved for you in heaven.” (I Peter 1:4 NASB)  Indeed, much has been written in regards to the believer and his future in God. Jesus himself said that the glory that God had given him, he gave to the believer. (John 17:22 NASB) The Bible speaks of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27 NASB) The Bible says that when Christ appears, the saints will also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)  The Shekinah glory of God will be seen in every believer, we will indeed “reflect the glory of his grace”. “The believers inheritance is God himself and all that God bestows.”[3]  The arrabon received serves to affirm that the full inheritance will indeed be procured.

It is impossible, in our present context of mortality, to grasp the full implications of our inheritance in Christ. One can recount all of the promises of God and try to conjure images of what it will be like to physically be in his presence, yet our limited perception prohibits us from appreciating or comprehending the reality of such an inheritance. In fact, the magnitude of such an inheritance, compounded with the finite limitations of human apprehension, can reduce one to speculating as to whether or not such a thing can be true- ARRABON! Our wonderful savior did not leave us with a mere promise and an exhortation to “have faith”; he has given an arrabon whereby we may now, at this present time, experience an infinitesimally small portion of the full inheritance that awaits us at the consummation of the eschaton. The Spirit of the new age has indeed broken in upon the old. This arrabon is the first installment of the believer’s inheritance in the kingdom of God.[4]

To be continued…

                18. Michael Green, I Believe in the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), 101,102.

                19. R. Kent Hughes, Ephesians: The Mystery of the Body of Christ (Wheaton, Il.: Good News Publishers, 1990), 46.

                20. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology: Volumes 3&4 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1976), 261.

21. Veli-Matti Karkkainen, Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspective (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2002), 33.

With This Ring (part2): The Holy Spirit as our “Arrabon”

(What did Paul mean when he referred to the Holy Spirit as our Arrabon ? Does the term arrabon have any special insight to offer as to the Father’s intentions regarding the Church?  In part two we go a little further in our attempts to gain new perspective into the wonderful gift God has give us.)

“The word arrabon has one of the most human and interesting backgrounds of all NT words.”[1]

The word is very common in the papyri in business documents and agreements  Milligan quotes some very interesting usages of it. We take three of them as    examples. A woman selling a cow and she received one thousand drachmae as an arrabon that the remainder of the price would be paid. Certain dancing girls were being hired for a village festival and they are paid so many drachmae in advance  as an arrabon, with proviso that this already paid sum will be taken into account when the final payment is made after the performance has been given. And-a rather amusing instance-a man writes, ‘Regarding Lampon, the mouse catcher, I  paid him for you as arrabon eight drachmae in order that he may catch the mice  while they are with young.’[2]

A tablet was found at Pech-Maho, a fortified trading post occupied from sixth century BC to the third century BC, and is “particularly revealing, because it involves an agreement between people of different origins, as is clear from the names. Witnesses are invoked and an arrabon is given as a pledge. ‘The pledge [arrabon] I handed over where the boats are moored…Basigerros and Bleruas and Golo.biur and Sedegon; these were [witnesses] when I handed over the pledge.’”[3]  Parchments [shopkeeper’s accounts] dug up in the sands of Egypt revealed that arrabon was the word used “for cash on deposit, a pledge for a bill that you would pay at the end.”[4]  The populace of the first century would have been well acquainted with the term arrabon.

  In the first century – an arrabon – αρραβων – bound someone legally to the  complete purchase…  Now the New Testament was written in the common,  ordinary language of the people of that era – in what is known as Koine-Greek.  “Koine” is a term that means “common.” So the term “Koine-Greek” means “Common Greek” indicating it was the commonly used Greek language… Now although arrabon was only used three times in the New Testament, it was a  common word used daily in the lives of everyone living in the New Testament   era.[5]

and again,

In the last seventy-five years through the discovery and examination of countless“ordinary” documents of the time of Christ, we have been able to recapture   something of the language of the day: in bills and receipts, deeds and grocerylists, in letters from traveling fathers, anxious mothers, and prodigal sons. Let us look at just one example. The idea of buying on the installment plan, with a small  initial down payment, is nothing new. Contracts and bills of sale from the first century record such transactions and specify the down-payment which seals andbinds the contract; the word used for this initial payment is “arrabon,” the very  word…[6]

It is worth noting that although one may be tempted to make comparisons between arrabon and terms used in modern society, such as “down payment”, there really is no justification for the comparison. In today’s down payment arrangement, one may decide to forfeit on the desired purchase; on the other hand, an arrabon was/is legally binding. There really is no adequate English terminology that fully captures the significance of arrabon.[7]

    Arrabon, its etymology and employment within the vernacular of the first century has been adequately considered, but it should be noted, at this point, that the term is also still used in today’s modern Grecian culture and this is of particular interest to this writer in that its contemporary usage, while definitely retaining the aspect of something given at the present in assurance of future consummation, possesses a distinctively intimate quality as well. The arrabon of modern Greece has to do with the engagement period prior to an actual wedding.

Among the Greeks, the arravon [arrabon] is the betrothal period, and is itself a formal ceremony. It takes place among the relatives of the contracting parties, and is looked upon almost as binding as the actual wedding itself.[8]  “If we went to Greece today and met an engaged lady and asked to see her arrabon, she would put out her hand with an engagement ring on it.  In modern Greek, that is what the word means.”[9] In the opinion of this writer, it would be redundant to cite the many references available as to the present day usage of arrabon. Scholars such as John MacArthur[10] and Michael Green[11] all attest to the fact that arrabon is the term used today, among modern Greeks, when referring to wedding engagement. It is this aspect of arrabon that prompted this writer to choose the title he selected for the writing at hand. The idea that by giving the Spirit as an arrabon, the eternal Lord and master of all creation has, in effect, said to his beloved, the church, “With this ring, I thee wed.”

To be continued…

7. William Barklay, New Testament Words, (Louisville, Kentucky, John Knox Press, 2000), 58.

8. Ibid., 58, 59.

 9. William Allen Johnson and Holt N. Parker, Ancient Literacies: The Culture of Reading in Greece and Rome, (New York, Oxford University Press, 2009), 26.

 10. Lesslie Newbigin and Paul Weston, Lesslie Newbigin: Missionary Theologian: A Reader, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006), 138.

11. Richard Coombes, “Biblical Vocabulary Term: Arrabon,” Alpha Omega Report (2009), (accessed March 21, 2011).

  12. Joel Frank, “The Use of Modern Translations and Their Effect in replacing The King James Version,” (1971), (accessed March 21, 2011).

  13. Richard Coombes, “Biblical Vocabulary Term: Arrabon,” Alpha Omega Report (2009), (accessed March 21, 2011).

14. Lucy M. Garnett, “The Christian Women of Turkey,” Womanhood Vol.3 (December, 1899-May 1900): 340.

 15. David Eckman, “Life Solutions Series on God The Trinity: God The Holy Spirit,” BWGI Ministries (2005), (accessed March 23, 2011).

 16. John MacArthur, Galatians: New Testament Commentary (Chicago, Il.: Moody Publishers, 1987), 66.

17. Michael Green, I Believe in the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2004), 101.

With This Ring: The Holy Spirit as our “Arrabon”

(A while back, I wrote a paper on Paul’s referring to the Holy Spirit as our Arrabon. Arra-what? Well, I’m glad you asked! I believe if you’ll take the time to read the next few “With This Ring: The Holy Spirit as our Arrabon” posts, you will gain new perspective as to the wonderful gift God has given to us in the Holy Spirit.)

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit, to be sure, is one that cannot be made to fit within a nicely packaged theological box. Volumes have been written in efforts to explain and comprehend the workings of the third “person” of the Trinity, and yet we find that even the Bible itself does not present us with a systematized outline concerning the Spirit; but rather teaches us about the Spirit through symbols and stories, concentrating more upon the work of the Spirit than anything else.[1] However, the Apostle Paul does give us a distinctively clear insight into one aspect of the Spirit’s work within the believer when in two of his epistles, he refers to the Holy Spirit as a pledge or arrabon, which God has given to the believer.  It is to this concept of the Spirit as the arrabon that we shall devote the content of this manuscript.

The usage of the word arrabon within the New Testament is distinctively Pauline,“…and it was a favorite of his because he uses it three times, always in the same connection. In II Cor. 1.22 he says that God has given us the arrabon of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. In II Cor. 5.5 he again talks about the arrabon of the Holy Spirit. And in Ephesians 1:14 he speaks about the Holy Spirit being the arrabon of our inheritance.”[2]  Arrabon, within the context of the aforementioned scriptures, seems to contain within it not only an aspect of the Spirit as the believer relates to him presently, but also an eschatological relevance as well. This arrabon is now a present reality, but his presence is indicative of the fact that there is more to come. There is a now, but not yet element in the word arrabon, and the propensity Paul had towards using the term peaks curiosity and incites a desire to further explore its connotations. However, before the theological implications of arrabon are explored, an excursion into its more practical aspects must be made.

Paul taught that he was teaching doctrine that had previously been hidden, and had been given to him by Jesus, through revelation( I Cor.2:7; I Cor. 11:23;Gal. 1:12). So, it behooves the sincere student of the Bible to carefully consider why Paul would use such a word as arrabon to describe the Holy Spirit. To understand the Apostle Paul’s affinity for the word arrabon, the etymology of the word must surely be considered, and the relevance which the term held for those who lived during the time of the apostle must also be comprehended.

According to James Wareing Bardsley ,

…arrabon, is doubtless of Phoenician origin. It originally signified the pledge or pawn which gave security to contract…As the Phoenicians had trading transactions with almost every part of the Mediterranean Sea, the word “arrabon”  became one of universal acceptance, just as the word “tariff,” derived from the Spanish traders, is found in almost every modern language. When the Greeks, however, adopted the term, they gave it a distinct and technical meaning. It was   not merely a pledge or security, it was something more; it signified the deposit  paid by a purchaser on entering into a contract for the purchase of anything.[3]

Raymond F. Collins shares Bardsley’s convictions that arrabon is a term taken “from the economic sphere, the world of financial transactions… [and] most likely of Phoenician origin;”[4]  Geoffrey Bromiley also concurs that “…arrabon is a commercial loanword from the Semitic [Phoenicia is included in this grouping] signifying “pledge” or “deposit”.[5]  In his book, Ephesians, Ernest Best lends his affirmation in attesting to the fact that the word arrabon “is a legal and commercial term of Semitic origin adopted into Greek which commits both giver and recipient to the completion of a deal under penalty. Yet the earnest is not just a pledge or guarantee that something will be given later; it is itself a partial gift…”[6] Among scholars, it seems to be the view of the majority that arrabon is Semitic in origin and its usage always contains some sort of commercial quality. Further citations could indeed be provided as to the origin of the word arrabon; but due to the brevity of this paper it is this writer’s hope that the reader has been given sufficient evidence as to verify arrabon’s etymology. But, is there documentation available that would indicate the colloquialism of arrabon during the time of Paul? Let us now turn our attention towards the manner in which arrabon was used in the vernacular of the first century.

To be continued…

            1.  Veli- Matti Karkkainen, Pneumatology, (Grand Rapids, MI – Baker Academic, 2002), 23.

2. William Barklay, New Testament Words, (Louisville, Kentucky- John Knox Press, 2000), 58.

                3. James Wareing Bardsley, Illustrative Texts and Texts Illustrated, (London, James Nisbet & CO., 1873), 223,224.

4. Raymond F. Collins, The Power of Images in Paul, (Minnesota, Liturgical Press, 2008), 153.

5. Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume 1, (Grand rapids, Michigan, William B. Erdmans Publishing Company, 1985), 80.

                6. Ernest Best, Ephesians, (New York, T&T Clark International, 1998), 151.