A Word Study on "Simple"/"Lowly"


I thought since yesterday I took you into the process of dissecting God’s word by looking up some of the key word’s original Hebrew meanings that today I would give you a taste for the process of doing a word/topic study of the word of God. 

The word I chose to concentrate on today is “simple” or sometimes also translated as “lowly”.  The first step I take in the process is the easiest; I look up the word in the concordance in the back of my bible and see where the most common uses for that word are in the bible.

Here are the verses my bible pointed to:

Psalm 19:7 - “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple

Psalm 119:130 – “The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

Proverbs 14:15 – “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.”

Romans 16:18“For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

From there, I then look at my Hebrew and Greek reference bibles to find the correlating numbers that go with the words I find are fitting for the meaning of “simple” that I want to study.  (To keep my study concentrated I also chose to only spend my time on the words that also convey the meaning of lowly in heart, and not those that mean stupid or simple minded.)

The Hebrew word used in the above Old Testament texts is pethâîy (reference number 6612) meaning foolish.  It is also from the root pâthâh (reference number 6601).  Unfortunately these words are not main topic words in the Hebrew text and so related verses are not cited, but do not be dismay there is another way to find further meaning of the word “simple” in the Old Testament, and that is through cross –reference.  Cross referencing basically involves following a path of similar verses that are provided in a good study bible.  Here are the references I came up with that wee worthy of mention to our study:

Zechariah 9:9“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

1 Samuel 2:8He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory.”

Unfortunately that did not take us far, but do not be discouraged, we still have the Greek New Testament to dig into.
In the Greek there are 4 main words that are translated into the same meaning a “simple”.

akakŏs (172) – innocent or unsuspecting
akĕraiŏs (185) – unmixed, innocent, harmless
tapēinŏs (5011) – base, cast down, humble, of low degree, lowly
tapĕinōphrōsunē (5012) – modesty, humbleness of mind, humility of mind, lowliness of mind

Here then, are some of the verses I was able to pull from those reference words:–

2 Corinthians 1:12For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.”

2 Corinthians 11:3But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Hebrews 7:26 – “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;”

Matthew 10:16 - Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

Matthew 11:29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Luke 1:52He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.”

Romans 12:16 – “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

2 Corinthians 7:6 – “Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast,

2 Corinthians 10:1 – “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.”

James 1:9 – “Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation”

Philippians 2:3Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Colossians 3:12-13Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another,

So, now that all this information is laid out in front of us.  The next step is to make a list of all the things that the word of God states about being “simple”.  Feel free to add to the list, but here is what I have come up with:

  • The testimony of the Lord is simple
  • God’s word gives light and understanding to those who are simple
  • Salvation is for the simple
  • God will lead us to a lowly spot to see our need for salvation
  • Being too simple of mind can be a trap – you can be gullible if you are too simple
  • Jesus allowed Himself to be simple
  • Those who are simple will be elevated by God to exulted places in His kingdom
  • Living a life of simplicity, sincerity, and grace is all we should boast in as Christians
  • Satan complicates the simple message of Jesus Christ
  • We must allow God to make us into a simple servant just like Jesus modeled for us
  • There is a paradox of being wise yet also being simple – only in God can we maintain both
  • The origin of all thought and activity come from a lowered humble state before God
  • Get down to where others are and find peace there – do not expect everyone to rise to your standards
  • Lowliness is a manner of living, not a convincing of truth
  • Ministry happens in unpraiseworthy places – leading to equality and peace with others
  • Lowliness sees others are more important than self
  • Humility is not a natural trait, but rather one we can clothe ourselves with in Christ.

These are items to definitely pray about and seek God in regards to how He desires to change our hearts.  Leaving the list as a good piece of research is not enough – if we really desire to be changed by God we must let His Spirit impress truth upon us through the Word of God and the treasure we dig from it.

I hope this study has encouraged you to dig a bit more into God’s word yourself.  There is so much treasure to be found (as we learned yesterday in the Love Letter from Proverbs).  Happy hunting!

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