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The Witness of the Epistles.
pp. 161 - 165
In the context we are studying (II Cor. 5:), the Apostle Paul states twice that while we
are "in this tent", i.e. our earthly house, "we groan", "being burdened". Most of us have
known what it is to "groan", and the Scriptures make it clear that, not only does "the
whole creation groan", but that those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, they also
"groan" within themselves, waiting for the adoption, namely "the redemption of the
body" (Rom. 8: 22, 23). We shall find that this word "groan" is largely associated with
the need felt for `the glorious liberty' that can only be enjoyed when "this mortal shall
have put on immortality" (I Cor. 15: 53). The essential meaning of the Greek word
translated "groan" is "to be cramped", and it will be an enlightenment for many of us to
give this our very careful attention. We may be sad or sorry or greatly moved by the
misery, the poverty, the wretchedness of man, but that is not in view in this word `groan'
as we shall see. The words translated `groan' in the N.T. are all derivatives of the Greek
sten, except two, where the Greek word is embrimaomai, but every reference translated
`groan' except that of Acts 7: 34, is related to Resurrection, and even Acts 7: 34
refers to bondage that is typical in its character, namely the bondage in Egypt. The Greek
sten enters into many scientific terms, narrow-footed, narrow-nosed, thin-necked,
narrow-leaved and the like. Its most common and best known usage is in the word
"Stenographer", which does not mean that a shorthand typist gets the "cramp", but that
"short" hand-writing is "cramped" writing. Here are the words used in the original:
Stenagmos Acts 7: 34; Rom. 8: 26.
Stenazo Rom. 8: 23; II Cor. 5: 2, 4.
Sustenazo Rom. 8: 22.
To these should be added stenochoreomai and stenochoria translated "distress" and
meaning "cramped for space" II Cor. 4: 8; 6: 12; Rom. 2: 9; 8: 35; II Cor. 6: 4;
Stenos "strait", the strait gate, gives the primitive meaning. The `groan' therefore is
associated with the `cramped' or `frustrating' existence here in contrast with the `glorious
liberty' to be entered at resurrection. The narrow chrysalis and the emerging butterfly is
nature's symbol. The `groan' of II Cor. 5: 2 and 4 is the result of being `burdened'
bareo. Those of you who have listened to weather reports will be acquainted with the
term "isobars", or "lines connecting places on the map having the same barometric
pressure". Hence "barometer", a measure of pressure. We shall appreciate the better the
Apostle's use of this word bareo in II Cor. 1: 8, where he says "We were pressed out of
measure", in a context that speaks of "despairing even of life", and having "the sentence
of death". On the other hand, we must not omit the exultant use of this same world, this
time the noun baros as the apostle approaches II Cor. 5:, where he uses this term for
pressure in the phrase "The far more exceeding eternal weight of glory" (II Cor. 4: 17).
While the listing of the number of occurrences of baros and its derivatives may be