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Dictionaries :: Good

Below are articles from the following dictionary:
International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


good (Tobh, Tubh, yaTabh; agathos, agathon, kalos, kalon): In English "good" is used in various senses, most of which are represented in the Bible.

(1) In the Old Testament the commonest word is Tobh, occurring very frequently and translated in a great variety of ways. Of the different shades of meaning, which frequently run into each other, the following may be distinguished:

(a) Possessing desirable qualities, beneficial, agreeable, e.g. "good for food" (Ge 2:9); "We will do thee good" (Nu 10:29); Who will show us any good?" (Ps 4:6); "good tidings of good" (Isa 52:7).

(b) Moral excellence, piety: "to know good and evil" (Ge 3:22); "that which is right and good" (De 6:18; 1Sa 12:23); "good and bad" (1Ki 3:9, the Revised Version (British and American) "evil"); "Depart from evil and do good" (Ps 37:27); "a good man" (Pr 12:2); compare Isa 5:20; Mic 6:8, etc.

(c) Kind, benevolent: "The men were very good unto us" (1Sa 25:15); "Give thanks unto Yahweh; for he is good" (1Ch 16:34); "the good Yahweh" (2Ch 30:18); "God is good to Israel" (Ps 73:1); "Yahweh is good to all" (Ps 145:9), etc.

(d) Serviceable, adequate, sufficient: "saw the light that it was good" (Ge 1:4; so 1:10,12 etc.); "not good that the man should be alone" (Ge 2:18); in the frequent phrase, "if it seem good" (1Ch 13:2; Es 5:4, etc.), sometimes rendered, "if it please" (Ne 2:5,7; Es 1:19, etc.).

(e) Not small or deficient (full, complete): "a good old age" (Ge 15,15; 25:8); "a good dowry" (Ge 30:20); "good ears," "years," "kine" (Ge 41:24,26,35); "good understanding" (1Sa 25:3); "good trees-"land" (2Ki 3:19,25), etc. (f) Not blemished, fair, honorable: "tender and good" (Ge 18:7); "good kids" (Ge 27:9); "good report" (1Sa 2:24; compare 2Ki 20:3; Jer 24:2); and the renderings "fair" (Ge 26:7, etc.), "beautiful" (2Sa 11:2), "pleasant" (2Ki 2:19), etc.

(g) Pleasure-giving, happy: "glad of heart" (1Ki 8:66; Es 5:9); sometimes in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) translated "merry" (Jud 16:25; 1Sa 25:36; 2Sa 13:28; Pr 15:15, the Revised Version (British and American) "cheerful"), etc.

Changes that may be noted in the Revised Version (British and American) are such as, "good" for "ready" (Isa 41:7); "I have no good beyond thee" for "My goodness extendeth not to thee" (Ps 16:2); "goodly" for "good" (Ps 45:1); "good" for "goodness" (Ps 107:9); "good" for "well" (Zec 8:15).

Tubh means something good, e.g. "the good of the land" (Ge 45:18,20; De 6:11; Job 21:16, the Revised Version (British and American) "prosperity").

YaTabh, "to do good," occurs several times, as, I will surely do thee good" (Ge 32:12); "to do good" (Le 5:4); "Make your ways and your doings good," the Revised Version (British and American) "amend" (Jer 18:11; Ze 1:12, etc.). Numerous other Hebrew words are rendered "good" in various verbal connections and otherwise, as "to bring good tidings" (2Sa 4:10; Isa 40:9, etc.); "take good heed" (De 2:4; 4:15; Jos 23:11); "make good" (Ex 21:34), etc.; "good will" (ratson, De 33:16; Mal 2:13); "what good?" the Revised Version (British and American) "what advantages?" (kishron, Ec 5:11); "good for nothing," the Revised Version (British and American) "profitable" (tsaleah, Jer 13:10), etc. In Jer 18:4, "as seemed good to the potter," the word is yahsar, which means literally, "right."

(2) In the New Testament the words most frequently translated "good" are agathos and kalos. The former, agathos, denotes good as a quality, physical or moral. Thus, "He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good" (Mt 5:45); "good gifts" (Mt 7:11); "Good Master (the Revised Version (British and American) "Teacher").... Why callest thou me good? none is good save one" (Mr 10:17 f; Lu 18:18 f; compare Mt 19:16 f); "they that have done good" (Joh 5:29). Sometimes it is equivalent to "kind" (thus Tit 2:5 the Revised Version (British and American)); to agathon is "that which is good" (Lu 6:45; Ro 7:13; 1Th 5:15; 1Pe 3:13), etc.; "that which is honest," the Revised Version (British and American) "honorable "(2Co 13:7); "meet" (Mt 15:26; Mr 7:27); "worthy," the Revised Version (British and American) "honorable" (Jas 2:7); agathon is "a good thing," as "good things to them that ask him" (Mt 7:11); Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (Joh 1:46), etc.; agathoergeo (1Ti 6:18), and agathopoieo (Mr 3:4; Ac 14:17), etc., "to do good."

Kalos is properly, "beautiful," "pleasing," "useful," "noble," "worthy" in a moral sense, e.g. "that they may see your good works" (Mt 5:16); "She hath wrought a good work on me" (Mt 26:10; Mr 14,6); "the good shepherd" (Joh 10:11,14); "Many good works have I showed you" (Joh 10:32); "good and acceptable before God" (1Ti 5:4; the Revised Version (British and American) omits "good"); "the good fight" (2Ti 4:7); "good works" (Tit 2:7); "the good word of God" (Heb 6:5). But it is often practically equivalent to agathos, e.g. "good fruit" (Mt 3:10); "good ground" (Mt 13:23); "good seed" (Mt 13:24); but the idea of useful may underlie such expressions; to kalon is properly "that which is beautiful." It occurs in Ro 7:18,21; 1Th 5:21, "Hold fast that which is good." In Ro 7 it seems to be used interchangeably with to agathon. In Ro 5:7, "the good man" (ho agathos) is distinguished from "a righteous man" (dikaios): "For the good man some one would even dare to die" (compare Ro 7:16; Heb 5:14; Jas 4:17); kalos, "well," "pleasantly," is translated "good" (Lu 6:27; Jas 2:3); kalodidaskalos (Tit 2:3), "teachers of good things," the Revised Version (British and American) "of that which is good."

"Good" occurs in the rendering of many other Greek words and phrases, as eudokia, "good pleasure" (Eph 1:9); "good will" (Lu 2:14; Php 1:15); sumphero, "to bear together," "not good to marry" (Mt 19:10), the Revised Version (British and American) "expedient"; philagathos, "a lover of good" (Tit 1:8); chrestologia, "good words" (Ro 16:18, the Revised Version (British and American) "smooth speech," etc.).

The following changes in the Revised Version (British and American) may be noted. In Lu 2:14 for "men of good will" (eudokia) the Revised Version (British and American) reads "in whom he is well pleased," margin "good pleasure among men, Greek men of good pleasure." The meaning is "men to whom God is drawing nigh in goodwill or acceptance"; compare Lu 4:19, "the acceptable year of the Lord"; 4:43, "Preach the good tidings of the kingdom of God." In Mt 11:5; Lu 4:43; 7:22; 1Pe 1:25 and (American Standard Revised Version) Re 14:6 "the gospel" is changed into "good tidings." In Mt 18:8 f; Mr 9:43,15,47; Lu 5:39, good is substituted for "better"; on the last passage in notes "Many authorities read ‘better' "; in 1Co 9:15 "good.... rather" for "better"; "good" is substituted in Lu 1:19; 8:1 and Ac 13:32 for "glad"; in Ac 6:3 for "honest"; in Heb 13:9 for "a good thing." In 2Th 1:11, all the good pleasure of his goodness" becomes "every desire of goodness" (m "Gr good pleasure of goodness"); in 1Ti 3:2, "good" (kosmios) becomes "orderly." There are many other instances of like changes.

Written by W. L. Walker




The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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