Three Words to Consider

A Section of the Bayeux Tapestry, France

Dear Readers,

Readers of The Lord of the Rings appreciate the genius of G. K. Chesterton, the professional philologist:  one who loves words.  Below this entry, you will find a brief definition and derivation of the word, philology:  both of which will strengthen and enlarge the meaning of the word, beyond merely “one who loves words.”

Although not classically trained as a philologist, I  love language, learning, and literature.

I am pleased to introduce you to my friend, Rick Stewart, a fellow amateur philologist, who has graciously agreed to be my Guest Blogger today.   He will challenge our common assumptions about the meaning of three simple words.

Thanks, Rick, for your insightful comments.  I hope you will be a “regular contributor” to this blog.  Please return with the enhanced meaning of additional words!

Coram Deo,



by Rick Stewart


I once read a commentary by Lucien Coleman who told of seeing a tapestry hanging in France with a section entitled “Edward Comforts His Troops.”  The tapestry depicted the king on horseback behind his soldiers with a lance pointed strategically at their backsides. This illustrates the complex meaning of the word comfort.

As Christians, we receive God’s comfort during the inevitable trials and suffering of this world.  Parakaleo in the original Greek means coming alongside to encourage. It does not mean escape from difficulty or being at ease.  It was used as a word for a legal counsel or a coach in an athletic event.  With that in mind, consider how the following passage calls for action rather than rest.  This kind of comfort gives counsel and direction.  God often does not take us out of our trouble but puts his strong arm around us and walks with us through it.   We should do the same for others.

II Corinthians 1 (NIV 1984)

3  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

4  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

5  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

6  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

7  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.


Another word enriched by examination is wait.  A famous exhortation from Psalm 27:14 says:  Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!

God’s timing is often not synchronized with our expectations. This Psalm reminds us to be patient because God is always faithful.  I think the word wait should also be a call to action; to active waiting, much like a waiter at a restaurant.  We must seek God’s orders for the present and be attentive to His desires within his timing.  I don’t want to carry the analogy too far but the idea of lethargic inactivity just doesn’t seem to be God’s will for anybody’s life.  I want to be the kind of waiter that God asks for when calling for reservations.


In premarital counseling, I have often quoted Genesis 2:24:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh. 

The rhyme helps couples remember that God’s essentials for successful marriage include leaving and cleaving.

I then point out that cleave has two meanings and one result. In the quoted verse the idea of cleave is to cling to or unite with.  But another meaning is to cut apart or separate – for example, when a butcher uses a meat cleaver.  How can both these meanings help in marriage?  The key is the result – cleavage.  Cleavage is created when two separate things come together.  Cleavage cannot be created with one thing.   Marriage is not one person subjugating or absorbing another.  A successful marriage happens when two people each seek to follow God’s will for their individual life.  As each gets closer to God, they will inevitably draw closer to each other.  Cleavage is created.  Cleavage is not a thing; it is the space between two things.  It has no substance, yet it is very real. This is the mystery of how a man and a woman can maintain individuality and still become one flesh.

Rick Stewart

Rick is an ordained minister and currently serves as Chaplain at Covenant Hospice.  He and his wife, Carole, reside in Tallahassee and are members of Bradfordville Baptist Church.  Stephen and I are honored to know them as friends and to share with them the joys of grand-parenting.

They are parents to Daniel and Vanessa.  They are also grandparents to Benjamin and Lucy, the children of Daniel and Haley Stewart.  They are looking forward to the birth of their third grandbaby, when Travis & Vanessa Fletcher welcome their first-born child, later this year!


[Source:  Wikipedia]

Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studieshistory and linguistics.[1]

Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin.  Classical philology is historically primary, originating in European Renaissance Humanism, but was soon joined by philologies of other languages both European (GermanicCelticSlavistics, etc.) and non-European (SanskritPersianArabicChinese, etc.). Indo-European studies involves the comparative philology of all Indo-European languages.

Any classical language can be studied philologically, and indeed describing a language as “classical” is to imply the existence of a philological tradition associated with it.

Because of its focus on historical development (diachronic analysis), philology came to be used as a term contrasting with linguistics.  This is due to a 20th-century development triggered by Ferdinand de Saussure‘s insistence on the importance of synchronic analysis, and the later emergence of structuralism and Chomskyan linguistics with its emphasis on syntax.

The term philology is derived from the Greek φιλολογία (philologia),[2] from the terms φίλος (philos), meaning “love, affection, loved, beloved, dear, friend” and λόγος(logos), meaning “word, articulation, reason,” describing a love of learning, of literature as well as of argument and reasoning, reflecting the range of activities included under the notion of λόγος.  

The term changed little with the Latin philologia, and later entered the English language in the 16th century, from the Middle French philologie, in the sense of “love of literature.”   [Wikipedia



Filed under Philology, Words & Language

2 responses to “Three Words to Consider

  1. Debbie Trostle

    On a lighter note – I will never look at (think about)
    cleavage the same way again.

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