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Dictionaries :: Prize

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International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


priz: Two Greek words are so rendered in English Versions of the Bible:

(1) brabeion, the award to the victor in the Greek games, consisting of a garland of bay, olive, or pine; so called because it was given by the brabeus, the adjudicator who assigned the prize at the games (Vulgate bravium, from which may be derived the English "brave" = originally gaily dressed, handsome). Used literally in 1Co 9:24, and figuratively of the heavenly reward for Christian character in Php 3:14.

(2) harpagmos, in the English Revised Version of Php 2:6, "counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God." The termination -uos, -mos, would lead us to expect the active sense: "an act of grasping," "plundering" (the King James Version "robbery"), which would imply that Christ did not deem it an act of usurpation to claim equality with God, for such equality was His inherent right. But the context demands a reference "not to the right which He claimed, but to the dignity which He renounced" (Lightfoot); hence, the majority of modern expositors take the word in a passive sense (= harpagma): "a thing to be seized, prized, retained at all costs as a booty" (the English Revised Version "a prize," the American Standard Revised Version "a thing to be grasped"), implying that Christ did not regard equality with God as a thing to be clutched greedily, but waived His rights (see Lightfoot on Php 2:6). The verb "to prize" occurs only in Zec 11:13.

Written by D. Miall Edwards




Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
1 Strong's Number: g1017 Greek: brabeion


"a prize bestowed in connection with the games" (akin to brabeus, "an umpire," and brabeuo, "to decide, arbitrate," "rule," Col 3:15), 1Cr 9:24, is used metaphorically of "the reward" to be obtained hereafter by the faithful believer, Phl 3:14; the preposition eis, "unto," indicates the position of the goal. The "prize" is not "the high calling," but will be bestowed in virtue of, and relation to, it, the heavenly calling, Hbr 3:1, which belongs to all believers and directs their minds and aspirations heavenward; for the "prize" see especially 2Ti 4:7, 8.

2 Strong's Number: g725 Greek: harpagmos


akin to harpazo, "to seize, carry off by force," is found in Phl 2:6, "(counted it not) a prize," RV (marg., "a thing to be grasped"), AV, "(thought it not) robbery;" it may have two meanings,

(a) in the Active sense, "the act of seizing, robbery," a meaning in accordance with a rule connected with its formation;

(b) in the Passive sense, "a thing held as a prize." The subject is capably treated by Gifford in "The Incarnation," pp. 28, 36, from which the following is quoted:

"In order to express the meaning of the clause quite clearly, a slight alteration is required in the RV, 'Counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God.' The form 'to be' is ambiguous and easily lends itself to the erroneous notion that to be on equality with God was something to be acquired in the future. The rendering 'counted it not a prize that He was on an equality with God,' is quite as accurate and more free from ambiguity.... Assuming, as we now may, that the equality was something which Christ possessed prior to His Incarnation, and then for a time resigned we have... to choose between two meanings of the word harpagmos

(1) with the Active sense 'robbery' or 'usurpation' we get the following meaning: 'Who because He was subsisting in the essential form of God, did not regard it as any usurpation that He was on an equality of glory and majesty with God, but yet emptied Himself of that coequal glory... '

(2) The Passive sense gives a different meaning to the passage: 'Who though He was subsisting in the essential form of God, yet did not regard His being on an equality of glory and majesty with God as a prize and a treasure to be held fast, but emptied himself thereof."

After reviewing the arguments pro and con Gifford takes the latter to be the right meaning, as conveying the purpose of the passage "to set forth Christ as the supreme example of humility and self-renunciation."

Note: For katabrabeuo (kata, "down," and brabeuo, see No. 1), translated "rob (you) of your prize," Col 2:18, see BEGUILE, Note.


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