Word for the Day: “Elencho”
Every word has a history. Elencho’s earliest known use in Greek was to convey blame. By the 4th century BC, philosophers like Plato and Aristotle used it for logical expositions—meaning, to test or examine. Soon, Elencho was used when a debater convinced someone of a point or refuted it. By the 1th century AD, elencho was used as a verb meaning; to expose, bring to light, rebuke, convict or correct. It was used 17 times in the New Testament with this meaning. For example:
- John the Baptist put elencho to bold use when he “rebuked” (NIV) or “reprimanded” (NASB) Herod the tetrarch for stealing his brother’s wife, and for “all the wicked things which Herod had done.” (Luke 3:19). Elencho involves risk. John lost his head.
- Elencho is what Jesus told us to do privately to a brother who has sinned against us: “Show him his fault” (Matthew 18:15). It’s the first step when seeking a resolution. It’s risky but be brave!
- Elencho is also a function of the Holy Spirit who will “convict” the world concerning sin (John 16:8). It is not the Spirit’s most celebrated role but it may be His most important one. In this case, it takes bravery to receive elencho.
- A closely related word, elegmos, describes the reproofing powers of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) and just a few verses later, Paul returns to elencho to convey the correcting power of preaching (2 Timothy 4:2).
- Paul also used elencho as an imperative verb. He charged the Ephesian saints, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose [elencho] them.” (Ephesians 5:11). Refraining from deeds of darkness is not enough. We must actively “expose” them.
Who likes to be exposed, rebuked or refuted? It rarely endears us to others. Nevertheless, love sometimes demands that we do it. Love may also call you to take it. Taking it means letting a light shine on our dark undersides. Doing it means shining a light on others. Walking as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8) involves dealing with the dark side. We must lift a few rocks and watch the ungrateful bugs scramble for darkness.
Picture Dracula cringing in sunlight. That’s the effect elencho has on most sinners. Listen to Jesus: “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed [elencho].” (John 3:20). Evildoers hate decent exposure. Thieves wear masks. Some politicians keep their real agendas well-covered. For the convenience of cheaters, they now have performance enhancing drugs that medical tests cannot detect. Too many terrorists hide behind innocent women and children to plot evil. Child molesters are adept at intimidating their young victims into keeping secrets. They all hate elencho!
But God hates lies, cover-ups, dirty secrets, and moral darkness. I’d rather earn the wrath of thieves and child molesters than the wrath of God, wouldn’t you?