Seek

  • Two, related Greek words are translated “seek”: ekzeteo and zeteo. The prefix, ek, adds the literal concept of “out” or “out of.”  The longer word is used only seven times in the New Testament:
    • Luke 11:50 – 51 May (shall) be required of this generation
    • Acts 15:17 (Amos 9:11 – 12) So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord.
    • Romans 11:7 Israel has not obtained what it seeks
    • Hebrews 11:6 A rewarder of those who diligently seek Him
    • Hebrews 12:17 Although he sought it diligently with tears
    • 1 Peter 1:10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully
  • The shorter word is used 82 times in various contexts, seeking people for good or evil, seeking God or His Kingdom, seeking understanding, or similar things. A representative list follows:
    • Matthew 2:13 Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him
    • Matthew 6:33 Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
    • Matthew 7:7 Seek and you will find
    • Matthew 12:46, 47 His mother and brothers stood outside seeking to speak with Him
    • Matthew 28:5 I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here.
    • Luke 9:9 He [Herod] sought to see him [John]
    • Luke 12:48 To whom much is given, from him much will be required
    • Luke 13:24 Many will seek to enter and will not be able
    • Luke 17:33 Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it
    • Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost
    • John 5:30 I do not seek My own will but he will of the Father who sent Me
    • John 7:19, 20, 25 Why do you seek to kill me?
    • John 7:34, 8:21, 13:33 You will seek Me and not find.  Where I am you cannot come
    • John 8:50 I do not seek My own glory
    • John 16:19 Are you inquiring among yourselves?
    • Acts 9:11 Inquire at the house of Judas for one named Saul
    • Acts 16:10 We sought to go to Macedonia
    • Acts 17:27 So that they should seek the Lord
    • Acts 27:30 As the sailors were seeking to escape the ship…
    • Romans 2:7 Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality
    • Romans 10:3 Seeking to establish their own righteousness
    • 1 Corinthians 1:22 The Jews request a sign and Greeks seek for wisdom
    • 1 Corinthians 4:2 It is required in stewards that one be found faithful
    • 1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own but each one the other’s
    • Colossians 3:1 Seek those things which are above
  • The two words above do not impart any special meaning inherent to the words, but rather derive their specific meaning from the context.
    • The prefix is more a stylistic addition than a carrier of additional meaning.
    • The addition of “diligently” (which is not a separate word in the text) seems to be an addition by the translators without linguistic basis.
  • In the passages concerning seeking God, what does the context imply about its characteristics?
    • Seeking can be fruitless due to inaccurate goals
      • Luke 13:24 Many will seek to enter and will not be able – Despite religious activity, God does not know them.
      • Luke 17:33 Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it – Physical life is not the objective
      • John 7:34, 8:21, 13:33 You will seek Me and not find.  Where I am you cannot come – The Pharisees could not overcome their misconceptions and lack of love.
      • Romans 10:3 Seeking to establish their own righteousness – Legalism kills
      • 1 Corinthians 1:22 The Jews request a sign and Greeks seek for wisdom – Theory must not take precedence over evidence.
    • What to seek
      • Matthew 6:33 Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
      • Romans 2:7 Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor and immortality
      • 1 Corinthians 10:24 Let no one seek his own but each one the other’s
      • Colossians 3:1 Seek those things which are above
    • Methods for re-focused seeking, not as divisive weapons but as consistent tools
      • Communication requires well-defined terms
        • Bad doctrine survives through inconsistent definitions
        • What they hear must be the same as what you say
        • Most have never considered a word study approach
        • If we don’t fix bad definitions, they cannot read and understand
      • Discuss, don’t lecture
      • Build from points of agreement
      • The Law was made for man, not man for the Law (be flexible)
      • Defeat minimalism
      • Recognize both the benefits and the hindrances inherent to traditions
      • Ask important, thought-provoking questions rather than easy answers