Some months ago we were regaled with a fine dissertation by a Berean concerning two Greek words, heteros and allos. Heteros is generally taken to signify "different," while allos is taken as meaning "other" or "another." But our Berean made an effort to shew that these two words meant the same, namely, "other" or "another."
So I thought it worth while looking up all my Modern Greek dictionaries, and was astounded to find that the heteros words and combinations did have the meaning of being "different." Then I examined English dictionaries, and discovered at least forty English words which began with heter, all meaning something like "different," in some way or other.
Now the Greek language has never changed so much in meanings as has the English language. Very few British people can follow the ancient Angle tongue and translate it into modern English.
Just here I should state that "Every heteros is an allos, but not every allos is a heteros." In other words: Everything that is different is something other; but not every other thing is different. For example, when the Lord spoke He mentioned "another" parable, and still "another."
Allos occurs about 160 times in the New Testament, while heteros occurs 102 times. And a peculiar feature is that Luke has allos only 18 times, in his Gospel and Acts, whereas he has heteros 53 times. And if we look at Hebrews, we find that it contains heteros 5 times, and allos only twice. This might well be one sign that the writer of Hebrews was Luke, especially when we find that Paul uses allos 31 times, and heteros 30 times. Matthew has allos 30 times, and heteros 10 times; Mark has allos 23 times, and heteros once; John has allos 52 times, and heteros once; James has one of each, while Jude has heteros once.
Now our Berean friend was comparing Matthew 13:5,7,8 with Luke 8:6, 7, 8. Matthew used only allos, while Luke used only heteros. The Lord was giving the parable of the Sower, and in v. 5 of Matthew we read "Yet other (seed) falls on to the rocky places." V. 7 says "Yet other falls on to the thorns." V. 8 says "Yet other falls on to the earth, the ideal (earth) . .." We turn to Luke ch. 8, and find in v. 6, "And different (seed) falls down on to the rock." V. 7 says. "And different (seed) falls in midst of the thorns." V. 8. says "And different (seed) falls into the earth, the good (earth)."
According to Matthew, the seeds might be all one kind, whereas, Luke referred to different seeds.
In the Rheims Version of 1582, Luke 8:6-8, the reading three times is "othersome." Nathaniel Scarlett (1798), the American Bible Union Version, Weymouth, A. T. Robertson. all read "(and) another part" three times, while the Emphatic Diaglott reads "part," and three times reads "another part." The German Concordant Version reads in Matthew 13 Anderes three times. But in Luke 8 the reading three times is anderweitiges, said to mean in English, remaining, further, at another time, or otherwise.
A statement is then given concerning 1st Corinthians ch. 15. In verse 39 Paul uses the word allE four times of kinds of flesh. The word flesh in Greek is sarx (feminine). I shall here quote from Rotherham: "Not all flesh (is) the same flesh; but one, indeed, (is flesh) of men; and another, flesh of beasts; and another flesh of birds; and another, of fishes." Yet although these kinds of flesh are not the same, they are not very different.
Verse 40 (Concordant Version): "(There are) bodies celestial as well as bodies terrestrial. But a different glory, indeed, (is) that of the celestial, yet a different that of the terrestial." Assuredly, the glory of the earth is not to be compared with that of the celestial. Do we not expect a tremendous difference when the Lord comes for us and removes us into our heavenly Realm?
Verse 41: "Another glory of sun, and another glory of moon, and another glory of stars, for star is excelling star in glory." But to us, living on earth, the glory seen is very similar, different degrees of brightness, and that not seen on every day.
Archbishop Trench in "New Testament Synonyms" (1894) says: "It would be easy to multiply the passages where heteros could not be exchanged at all, or could only be exchanged at a loss, for allos, as Matt. 11:1; 1. Cor. 15:40; Gal. 1:6." Others too there are where at first sight allos seems quite as fit or a fitter word; where yet heteros retains its proper force. Thus, at Luke 22:65 the hetera palla (many different things), blasphemous speeches now of one kind, now of another; the Roman soldiers taunting the Lord now from their own point of view, as a pretender to Caesar's throne; and now from the Jewish, as claiming to be Son of God."
Other verses which were compared are Matt. 2:12 and James 2:25. Matthew used allos, while James used heteros. But why different? If we compare these two verses, we observe a difference. In Matthew the wise men were apprised according to a trance not to go back again to Herod, and they retired through another way into their country. Evidently they were informed in the trance which way to go home. As for Rahab, "was she not by works declared righteous, when she gave welcome unto the messengers, and by a different way urged (them) forth?"
Now if we look at Joshua 2:1-7 and 12-16, we observe that the difficulties of Rahab and the two spies who lodged in her house at Jericho were much worse than those of the wise men. In fact, the wise men, after having met Herod, and being warned in a dream, simply departed quietly to their own land by another way. This other way might have been much the same as the way they had taken to reach Bethlehem. But Rahab had to let the two spies down by a rope through a window, as her house was built into the city wall. This was surely a different manner of quitting a city from the usual way. Besides, Rahab dreaded that the spies might be caught by the pursuers, and thus advised the spies to hide in the hills for three days, until the pursuers had returned to Jericho. This manner of escaping was evidently different from what the spies might have expected.
Dr. Bullinger explained allos as "other, not the same, i.e., one besides what has been mentioned, denoting numerical distinction. Heteros, the other, denoting generic distinction, the other, different of two, a stronger expression therefore than allos." C. J. Vaughan, D.D., explained heteros as "The usual difference between allos (one besides) and heteros (a different one). Galatians 1:6-7: eis heteron euaggelion, ho ouk estin allo (into a different evangel, which is not another). Even where the two are intermixed, as in 1. Cor. 12:8-10 and 2. Cor. 11:4, the distinction is not necessarily obliterated."
Let us then examine these two passages, taking Rotherham's version. 1. Cor. 12:8: "For, to one, indeed, through the Spirit, is given, a word of wisdom; but, to another, a word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: V. 9: To a different one,—faith, in the same Spirit; But, to another,—gifts of healings, in the one Spirit; V. 10: But, to another,—inward workings of mighty-deeds: To another,—prophesying: To another, discriminations of spirits: To a different one, kinds of tongues; But, to another,—translation of tongues:" 2. Cor. 11:4: "For if, indeed, he that is coming is proclaiming another Jesus, whom we did not proclaim; or a different Spirit ye received, which ye did not receive; or, a different glad-message, which ye did not welcome,—well were ye bearing with (me)."
Godet has something to say upon 1. Corinthians 12:8-10. "Most moderns think it impossible to discover any psychological or logical order in the following enumeration, and think even that there is no force to be ascribed in this respect to the change of the pronoun allO into heterO (once in v. 9, a second time in v. to). Meyer is not of this opinion, and rightly, as it seems to me; for there is nothing arbitrary in Paul's style, and everybody knows that allos expresses a difference of individual, but heteros a difference of quality. Thus we have the expression in Greek heteros ginesthai, to become other, to change one's opinion, while allos ginesthai, to become a different individual, would have no meaning. It, cannot therefore be without an object that Paul has twice introduced in this enumeration the stronger adjective instead of the weaker. ..Before the first heterO, to a different, we find the indication of two gifts, which, as has always been remarked, relate principally to the faculty of intelligence, and thus form a first homogeneous group. It is easy to understand the reason why Paul assigns to it at this stage the first place. We shall see that the Corinthians were disposed to regard the most extraordinary manifestations, the most ecstatic, as much more really Divine than those which leave man in full possession of his reason. Now the apostle places these very manifestations in the foreground to sweep away this false judgment." Godet then discusses the opinions of others, and then comes to verse 9. "If we hold that the substitution of heterO for allO is not accidental, the gifts which follow should have a different character from the two preceding, and this new character ought to reappear identically in the five gifts enumerated down to the following heterO (end of v. 10). Now it is easy to prove that it is so. The two preceding gifts were exercised in virtue of a communication of light; the following five proceed from a communication of force, in other words, from an influence of the spirit, no longer specially on the understanding, but on the will. By faith the apostle certainly does not understand saving faith in general; for this is not a special gift, it is the portion of all Christians. Faith is the root of the Christian life, not one of its fruits. We see clearly from ch. 13:2 that the apostle distinguishes between faith in general and faith as a particular gift. As such, it is the possession of salvation taking the character of assurance in God, of heroic daring, resolutely attacking and surmounting all the obstacles which are opposed to the work of God in a given situation. 'Father, I know that Thou hearest me always!' Such is the cry of this faith which removes mountains.
Verse 10: The miraculous operations have a very natural connection with the two previous gifts. Paul has in view the power of working all sorts of miracles other than simple cures, corresponding to the wants of the different situations in which the servant of Christ may be placed; resurrections from the dead, the driving out of demons, judgments inflicted on unfaithful Christians or adversaries, such as Ananias or Elymas, deliverances like that of Paul at Malta.
It is certainly not without reason that the pronoun heterO reappears in v. 10. The gift of tongues and that of their interpretation form, in the apostle's eyes, a new category. And the character of this third group is easily distinguished. If in the first we find the influence of the Spirit on the powers of the understanding, in the second on the forces of the will, it is very clear that in the third we have the influence of the same Spirit on the feelings. Ch. 14:14-16 proves that he who speaks in tongues addresses God under the overpowering influence of profound emotion, which causes him to pray, sing, or give thanks in an ecstatic language unintelligible to every one who does not share the same emotion, and to which his own understanding, his nous, remains a stranger."
Was Mark wrong in ch. 16:12 to say the Lord "was manifested in a different form," after His resurrection? The Lord was wondrously altered, and no longer seemed to be about "fifty years old."
Was Luke wrong to say in ch. 9:29 that the Lord's "face became different" or as in the King James version, "altered"?
Did Paul bungle when he wrote Galatians 1:6? "I am marvelling that you are being transferred thus swiftly, from that which calls you in the grace of Christ, into a different evangel, which is not another."
In the Greek Septuagint there are many examples of the word heteros, such as Exodus 1:8, "a different king." The Hebrew word is chadash, meaning new, while the word chodesh means new moon. In Acts 7:18 we read that "a different king arose over Egypt." He had not known Joseph, and he ill-treated the Hebrews in Egypt.
In Jeremiah 39:39 (32:39 in our Bibles) God says, "And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me all days." Here the word for one is echad, the meaning of which is a or an, another, any, first, one(often), other, etc. But in the Greek Septuagint the sense is: "And I shall give them a way different, and a heart different."
Numbers 14:24 says, "And My servant Caleb, because he came to be of another spirit in him. . .." Here the Greek Septuagint renders the word meaning different. It was indeed another spirit, and a different spirit.
Isaiah 28:11 in the Revised Standard Version reads thus: "Nay, but by men of strange lips and with an alien tongue the LORD will speak to this people." Paul takes this up in 1. Corinthians 14:21—"In the Law it has been written that. 'By different-languages and by different lips shall I be talking to this people, and neither thus will they be hearkening to Me.'" Here we find the double word different-tongues (heteroglOssois), followed by "in lips" heterOn.
In Tromm's Greek Concordance to the O.T. (1717) there at least 39 occurrences of the expression "different gods." These must have been false gods.
When we read Acts 17:10-13 we discover that the Jews in Berea, along with the respectable Greek women and men of good bearing, were more noble than those in Thessalonica. So it may be true that Bereans of today feel themselves to be different (heteroi) and better than others (alloi).
A.T. Last updated 7.11.2005