Distinction of κράτος, ἰσχύς, and δύναμις

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.

Distinction of κράτος, ἰσχύς, and δύναμις

Postby Mike Baber » April 1st, 2012, 11:29 am

In Ephesians 1:19, κράτος and δύναμις are translated as power (A.V.). I'm trying to determine the actual difference in meaning between them.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Distinction of κράτος, ἰσχύς, and δύναμις

Postby Louis L Sorenson » April 1st, 2012, 11:39 pm

My first gut response is that κράτος, κρατῶ has the idea of control. That a person has it in his power, holds it fast, accomplishes it. δύναμις / δύναμαι has the idea of power, ability, possibility.
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Re: Distinction of κράτος, ἰσχύς, and δύναμις

Postby David Lim » April 1st, 2012, 11:51 pm

Mike Baber wrote:In Ephesians 1:19, κράτος and δύναμις are translated as power (A.V.). I'm trying to determine the actual difference in meaning between them.

Any thoughts?


[Eph 1] [19] και τι το υπερβαλλον μεγεθος της δυναμεως αυτου εις ημας τους πιστευοντας κατα την ενεργειαν του κρατους της ισχυος αυτου

I had the same thought as Louis. I would translate "το υπερβαλλον μεγεθος της δυναμεως αυτου" as "the surpassing magnitude of his power" and "του κρατους της ισχυος αυτου" as "of the might of his strength", because I think "μεγεθος" indicates "great extent" while "κρατος" indicates "strong influence", and "δυναμις" indicates "intrinsic ability" while "ισχυς" indicates "(literal) strength". It is hard to pin the meaning of individual words down in any language but does anyone think my rough glosses are off?
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Re: Distinction of κράτος, ἰσχύς, and δύναμις

Postby ed krentz » April 2nd, 2012, 10:15 am

κράτος is brute force. In Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound kratos and bia fasten Prometheus to the stone where the eagles each day eat his liver.
ἰσχύς is strength.
δύναμις is the ability to do something, often translated as a faculty.

Read LSJ on these words.

Ed Krentz
Edgar Krentz
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Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
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Re: Distinction of κράτος, ἰσχύς, and δύναμις

Postby Mike Baber » April 24th, 2012, 6:17 pm

LSJ doesn't help much.

For example, you said kratos means "brute force," and LSJ also gives that meaning for ischus (A3).

BTW, LSJ is usually my first stop. b-Greek is where I come to get more in-depth answers when LSJ doens't offer a solution.
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Re: Distinction of κράτος, ἰσχύς, and δύναμις

Postby cwconrad » April 25th, 2012, 1:41 pm

It's certainly good to check what BDAG and LSJ have to say on questions like this, but the source that really offers the most helpful answers to this sort of question -- with regard to NT diction, at least -- is Louw & Nida. I cite three relevant sections here:
76.6 κράτοςa, ους n: the power to rule or control — ‘power, might.’ τὸν τὸ κράτος ἔχοντα τοῦ θανάτου ‘the one who has power over death’ He 2:14.

76.7 κράτοςb, ους n; δύναμιςc, εως f: a deed manifesting great power, with the implication of some supernatural force — ‘mighty deed, miracle.’
κράτοςb: ἐποίησεν κράτος ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ ‘he did a mighty deed by his power’ Lk 1:51.
δύναμιςc: ἄνδρα ἀποδεδειγμένον ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ εἰς ὑμᾶς δυνάμεσι καὶ τέρασι ‘a man manifested to you by God by means of mighty deeds and wonders’ Ac 2:22.


74.8 ἰσχύςa, ύος f: exceptional capability, with the probable implication of personal potential — ‘capability, strength.’ ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου … ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου ‘love the Lord your God … with all your strength’ or ‘… with your whole being’ Mk 12:30. In a number of languages the [p. 677] expression ‘to love the Lord with one’s strength,’ in the sense of physical strength, is meaningless, and therefore it may be necessary to translate ‘love the Lord your God as completely as you can.’ It is important to note that in a passage such as Mk 12:30 the terms in the series καρδία, ψυχή, διάνοια, and ἰσχύς do not refer to completely different parts or aspects of human personality; rather, the four are combined to emphasize the totality of the individual. In some languages the equivalent way of expressing this comprehensive aspect of personality is ‘to love him completely with all you feel and all you think.’
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πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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