I am going to start doing some Greek word studies from time to time because it is fun and we might learn something. I promise these won’t be like the daily press conferences we see everyday. Speaking of press conferences our first word study will be – “doulos” ( δόλος) which Is usually translated as deceit.
At the foundation it means bait; but as it progresses it figuratively means deceit (trickery) using bait to alure (“hook”) people, especially those already festering in excessive, emotional pain (brought on by themselves). This is from Strong’s Concordance. This is fascinating on so many levels. Think of the weeping emotional wrecks we have seen on TV weeping because they have been “triggered” by a flag or a rock or a word. They are ripe to be lured and hooked and deceived. They can dragged along by anyone who scratches their itching ears and says what they want to hear. They are undiscerning people who get hooked on their own greed or self absorption. They get hooked on a fad and find themselves lost and struggling for a way out.
The followers of Christ, like their Lord, have no deceit in their mouth. They speak the truth in love. That sentence in Greek carries the meaning of a “Spirit-led confrontation where it is vital to tell the truth so others can live in God’s reality rather than personal illusion.” This also from Strong’s.
How better to describe the world in which we live? It is a delusion we bring a long to ourselves or one we are hooked into. When someone publicly announces for instance, that the airport in Kabul is protected while trying to ignore or hide the fact that people trying to leave can’t get there, it is not so much deceit as a lie. Deceit would be to tell them it is open and safe to lure them there into danger. What we hear on TV is the recitation of funtionaries telling us they have achieved what they were told to do. Telling the world that the airport right now is no use to anyone defeats the narrative. Asking folks to ever again believe the functionaries and the hot shots who made this debacle would be doulo.
So it is difficult to think of this word without getting political but it is tough today to think of anything without being political. One of the most intriguing ways this word is used in the Bible is in Acts 13 and it is in a particularly political context. Paul is in Cyprus and is to meet Sergius Paulus who was willing to hear their message. He was governor of the country, under the Roman emperor. One commentator said “He had the character of a prudent man, an intelligent, considerate man, that was ruled by reason, not passion nor prejudice, which appeared by this, that, having a character of Barnabas and Saul, he sent for them, and desired to hear the word of God. Note, When that which we hear has a tendency to lead us to God, it is prudence to desire to hear more of it. Those are wise people, however they may be ranked among the foolish of this world, who are inquisitive after the mind and will of God. Though he was a great man, and a man in authority, and the preachers of the gospel were men that made no figure, yet, if they have a message from God, let him know what it is, and, if it appear to be so, he is ready to receive it.” (Matthew Henry). Rather than allowing a fair hearing a man named Elymas, a sorcerer, a hanger on at court, maybe a political junkie, seeks to poison the political atmosphere against Paul.
Paul confronts him.
9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit (doulos) and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”
Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.