Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words

Edited by W.E. Vine (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1981)

This is an excellent book to add to your library. Due to its consolidation of corresponding Hebrew and Greek terms under one heading, and its use of the Strong's number system, this is a very useful book. The paperback edition is conveniently small (6"x4"x1.5"), and its list price is only $10 (US). It is available at Border's Books at or Christian Book Distributors at


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Old Testament

A. Adjectives

1. tob (Strong's Hebrew #2896), "good; favorable; festive; pleasing; pleasant; well; better; right; best." This adjective denotes "good" in every sense of that word. For example tob is used in the sense "pleasant" or "delightful," Gen. 49:15; or as in Gen. 40:16, "favorable" or "in one's favor." God is described as One who is "good," or One who gives "delight" and "pleasure." Ps. 73:28. tob often qualifies a common object or activity. When the word is used in this sense, no ethical overtones are intended, 1 Sam. 19:4; 25:15; 1 Kings 12:7; Gen 2:18. Elsewhere tob is applied to an evaluation of one's well-being or of the well-being of a situation or thing, Gen. 1:4 [and Gen 1:31].

tob is used to describe land and agriculture, Exod. 3:8; 1 Sam. 8:14. tob is used to describe men or women. Sometimes it is used of an "elite cors" of people, 1 Sam. 8:16, 27. In other passages, tob describes physical appearance, Gen 24:16. Sying "at a good old age" describes "advanced age," rather than moral accomplishement, but a time when due to divine blessings one is fulfilled and satisfied, Gen. 15:15. tob indicates that a given word, act, or circumstance contributes positively to the condition of a situation, Gen. 40:16. The judgment may be ethical, Neh. 5:9. The word may also represent "agreement" or "concurrence," Gen. 24:50.

B. Verbs

1. yatab (Strong's Hebrew #3190) - [See Vine's book.]

2. tob (Strong's Hebrew #2896) - [See Vine's book.]

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New Testament

A. Adjectives

1. agathos, (Strong's Greek #18) describes that which, being good in its character or constitution, is beneficial in its effect; it is used (a) of things physical, e.g., a tree, Matt. 7:17; ground, Luke 8:8; (b) in a moral sense, frequently of persons and things. God is essentially, absolutely and consummately good, Matt. 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19. To certain persons the word is applied in Matt. 20:15; 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17; 23:50; John 7:12; Acts 11:24; Tit. 2:5; in a general application, Matt. 5:45; 12:35; Luke 6:45; Rom. 5:7; 1 Pet. 2:18.

The neuter of the adjective with the definite article signifies that which is good, lit., ‘the good,’ as being morally honourable, pleasing to God, and therefore beneficial. Christians are to prove it, Rom. 12:2; to cleave to it, 12:9; to do it, 13:3; Gal. 6:10; 1 Pet. 3:11 (here, and here only, the article is absent); John 5:29 (here, the neuter plural is used, ‘the good things’); to work it, Rom. 2:10; Eph. 4:28; 6:8; to follow after it, 1 Thess. 5:15; to be zealous of it, 1 Pet. 3:13; to imitate it, 3 John 11; to overcome evil with it, Rom. 12:21. Governmental authorities are ministers of good, i.e., that which is salutary, suited to the course of human affairs, Rom. 13:4. In Philm. 14, “thy goodness,” R.V. (lit., ‘thy good’), means ‘thy benefit.’ As to Matt. 19:17, “why askest thou Me concerning that which is good?” the R.V. follows the most ancient mss.

The neuter plural is also used of material goods, riches, etc., Luke 1:53; 12:18, 19; 16:25; Gal. 6:6 (of temporal supplies); in Rom. 10:15; Heb. 9:11; 10:1, the good things are the benefits provided through the sacrifice of Christ, in regard both to those conferred through the Gospel and to those of the coming Messianic Kingdom. See further under No. 2.

2. kalos, (Strong's Greek #2570) denotes that which is intrinsically good, and so, goodly, fair, beautiful, as (a) of that which is well adapted to its circumstances or ends, e.g., fruit, Matt. 3:10; a tree, 12:33; ground, 13:8, 23; fish, 13:48; the Law, Rom. 7:16; 1 Tim. 1:8; every creature of God, 1 Tim. 4:4; a faithful minister of Christ and the doctrine he teaches, 4:6; (b) of that which is ethically good, right, noble, honourable, e.g., Gal. 4:18; 1 Tim. 5:10, 25; 6:18; Tit. 2:7, 14; 3:8, 14. The word does not occur in the Apocalypse, nor indeed after 1 Peter.

Christians are to “take thought for things honourable” (kalos), 2 Cor. 8:21, R.V.; to do that which is honourable, 13:7; not to be weary in well doing, Gal. 6:9; to hold fast “that which is good,” 1 Thess. 5:21; to be zealous of good works, Tit. 2:14; to maintain them, 3:8; to provoke to them, Heb. 10:24; to bear testimony by them, 1 Pet. 2:12. Kalos and agathos occur together in Luke 8:15, an “honest” (kalos) heart, i.e., the attitude of which is right towards God; a “good” (agathos) heart, i.e., one that, instead of working ill to a neighbour, acts beneficially towards him. In Rom. 7:18, “in me … dwelleth no good thing” (agathos) signifies that in him is nothing capable of doing good, and hence he lacks the power “to do that which is good” (kalos). In 1 Thess. 5:15, “follow after that which is good” (agathos), the good is that which is beneficial; in ver. 21, “hold fast that which is good (kalos),” the good describes the intrinsic value of the teaching.

3. chrestos, (Strong's Greek #5543), said of things, that which is pleasant, said of persons, kindly, gracious, is rendered “good” in 1 Cor. 15:33; “goodness” in Rom. 2:4. See Easy. Note: Lampros denotes gay, bright, “goodly” in Jas. 2:2, A.V., (R.V., “fine”); in 2:3, A.V., “gay;” in Rev. 18:14 (R.V., “sumptuous”). See Gorgeous, Sumptuous. For asteios, “goodly,” Heb. 11:23, R.V., see Beautiful. For hikanos, Acts 18:18, A.V., “a good while.”

B. Nouns.

1. chrestotes, (Strong's Greek #5544) akin to A, No. 3, denotes goodness (a) in the sense of what is upright, righteous, Rom. 3:12 (translated “good”); (b) in the sense of kindness of heart or act, said of God, Rom. 2:4; 11:22 (thrice); Eph. 2:7 (“kindness”); Tit. 3:4 (“kindness”); said of believers and rendered “kindness,” 2 Cor. 6:6; Col. 3:12; Gal. 5:22 (R.V.; A.V., “gentleness”). It signifies “not merely goodness as a quality, rather it is goodness in action, goodness expressing itself in deeds; yet not goodness expressing itself in indignation against sin, for it is contrasted with severity in Rom. 11:22, but in grace and tenderness and compassion.”

2. agathosune, (Strong's Greek #19), goodness, signifies that moral quality which is described by the adjective agathos (see A, No. 1). It is used, in the N.T., of regenerate persons, Rom. 15:14; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9; 2 Thess. 1:11; in the last, the phrase “every desire of goodness” (R.V.; the addition of “His” in the A.V. is an interpolation; there is no pronoun in the original) may be either subjective, i.e., desire characterised by goodness, good desire, or objective, i.e., desire after goodness, to be and do good.

Trench, following Jerome, distinguishes between chrestotes and agathosune in that the former describes the kindlier aspects of goodness, the latter includes also the sterner qualities by which doing good to others is not necessarily by gentle means. He illustrates the latter by the act of Christ in cleansing the temple, Matt. 21:12, 13, and in denouncing the Scribes and Pharisees, 23:13-29; but chrestotes by His dealings with the penitent woman, Luke 7:37-50. Lightfoot regards chrestotes as a kindly disposition towards others; agathosune as a kindly activity on their behalf. J. A. Robertson (on Eph. 5:9) remarks that agathosune is “the kindlier, as dikaiosune (righteousness) the sterner, element in the ideal character.”

3. eupoiia, (Strong's Greek #2140), beneficence, doing good (eu, well, poieo, to do), is translated as a verb in Heb. 13:16, “to do good.”

C. Adverbs.

1. kalos, (Strong's Greek #2573), well, finely, is used in some mss. in Matt. 5:44, with poieo, to do, and translated “do good.” In Jas. 2:3 it is rendered “in a good place” (A.V. marg., “well” or “seemly”).

2. eu (Strong's Greek #2095), well, used with poieo, is translated “do … good” in Mark 14:7.

D. Verbs (to do, or be, good).

1. agathopoieo, (Strong's Greek #15), from A, No. 1, and poieo, to do, is used (a) in a general way, to do well, 1 Pet. 2:15, 20; 3:6, 17; 3 John 11; (b) with pointed reference to the benefit of another, Luke 6:9, 33, 35; in Mark 3:4 the parts of the word are separated in some mss. Some mss. have it in Acts 14:17, for No. 2.

Cp. the noun agathopoiia, well–doing, 1 Pet. 4:19, and the adjective agathopoios, doing well, 1 Pet. 2:14.

2. agathourgeo, (Strong's Greek #14), for agathoergeo, to do good (from A, No. 1, and ergon, a work), is used in Acts 14:17 (in the best mss.; see No. 1), where it is said of God’s beneficence towards man, and 1 Tim. 6:18, where it is enjoined upon the rich.

3. euergeteo, (Strong's Greek #2109), to bestow a benefit, to do good (eu, well, and a verbal form akin to ergon,) is used in Acts 10:38.

Notes: (1) The verb ischuo, to be strong (ischus, strength), to have efficacy, force or value, is said of salt in Matt. 5:13, negatively, “it is good for nothing.” (2) In Matt. 19:10, A.V., sumphero, to be profitable, expedient (sun, together, phero, to bring); is rendered with a negative “it is not good” (R.V., “it is not expedient”). (3) In Mark 14:7, the two words eu, well, and poieo, to do, are in some mss. treated as one verb eupoieo, to do good.

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume

Kittel, Gerhard, and Friedrich, Gerhard, Editors (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add this book to your library. It is available at Border's Books at or Christian Book Distributors at

agathos. As both adjective and noun, agathos denotes excellence (Plato Cratylus 412c). As an adjective it is given specific content by the word it qualifies, e.g., status or quality (cf. Mt. 25:21; 7:17). As a noun it can mean “the good” or “goods,” whether material or spiritual.

A. In Greek Philosophy. The good is what gives meaning, e.g., what is pleasant (Sophists), the central idea (Plato), or such things as reason, virtue, the golden mean, and the necessary (Aristotle). People become good through instruction in the good (Plato Gorgias 470c).

B. In Hellenism. Being less humanistic, Hellenism gave agathos a religious flavor. “The good” is salvation, while “good” is “pleasing to God” in our case and “kind” in God’s. In the Hermetic writings God alone is truly good; we humans become good by mortification of material things and by divinization. In Philo the divinity who is the supreme good is the personal God (Allegorical Interpretation of Laws 1.47). Piety, faith, and wisdom are goods whereby, with God’s help, we may know and serve God (On the Special Laws 4.147; On Abraham 268; Who Is the Heir? 98).

C. In the OT and Judaism. The approach here is religious, as in Hellenism, but the self-revelation of the personal God is now determinative. “God is good” is the basic confession (cf. 1 Chr. 16:34). This God does “good” (cf. Ex. 18:9) in his work in history, which aims at final salvation and gives direction for life through the law. “Good” has already been done but is also awaited (Jer. 32:39, 42). Meanwhile we are shown what is “good” by the revelation of God’s will in the law. Those who do good are good, but whether this is possible without God’s help is debatable (Josephus The Jewish War 2.163ff.). Qoheleth thinks not (Ecc 7:20). The rabbis see a struggle between good and evil impulses, works of love being the true good works.

D. In the NT.

agathoergeo. This rare word refers to God’s kindly action (Acts 14:17) but also to the loving liberality that is required of the rich (1 Tim. 6:18).

agathopoieo, agathopoios, agathopoiia. The verb and adjective are used in astrology for stars of benign influence. In the LXX the verb denotes the good in action. It is common in 1 Peter (2:15, 20; 3:6, 17) in the same sense; cf. the “doer of good” who is “of God” (3 Jn. 11). agathopoios in 1 Pet. 2:14 is contrasted with the wrongdoer; the Christian is to be a “doer of right.” agathopoiia (1 Pet. 4:19) is the right action that alone is the proper preparation for final deliverance.

agathosyne. This is the quality, or moral excellence, of the good person. It is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22) or of light (Eph. 5:9), the content of the Christian life (Rom. 15:14).

philagathos. This word, found in Aristotle and Philo and used as a title of honor in Hellenistic societies, constitutes one of the qualifications of a bishop: he is to be a “lover of goodness” (Tit. 1:8).

aphilagathos. According to 2 Tim. 3:1ff. the attitude of people in the last time shows how serious this time is. Many of them, as “lovers of self,” will be “haters of good[ness].” In that false love, lovelessness will celebrate its triumph.

[W. Grundmann, I, 10-18]

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2. kalos [beautiful, good]

A. The Meaning of kalos. Related to Indo-European words for “powerful,” “excellent”, “strong,” kalos has the sense of a. “healthy,” “serviceable,” e.g., sterling metal, suitable place, or right time, b. “beautiful,” “attractive,” “lovely,” and c. “good.” All these senses may be brought together under the idea of “what is ordered or sound,” and with this basic sense kalos is a key term in Greek thought. The noun to kalon (ta kala ) means a. “the good,” “virtue,” and b. “the beautiful,” “beauty.”

B. kalos kai agathos.

C. kalos and to kalon in the Greek World and Hellenism.

D. kalos in the OT (LXX) and Judaism.

1. Used in the LXX for yapeh <Strong's Hebrew #3190>, “beautiful” (e.g., Gen. 12:14), and tob <Strongs' Hebrew #2896>, “useful” (Gen. 2:9) or “morally good” (Prov. 17:26), kalos plays only a meager role in the OT. The more personal concept of the doxa of God replaces much of what the Greek philosophers meant by it, and in an ethics determined by the law the ideal of life and education expressed in the kalos kagathos has no place. Where kalos means the good it denotes conformity to God’s will, and while the sense of ordered beauty may be present in the creation story (cf. Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31), the aesthetic dimension is usually absent. 2. In the sense of “morally good,” i.e., in accordance with the law, kalos is a synonym of agathos and occurs in Num. 24:1; Dt. 6:18; 2 Chr. 14:1; Is. 1:17; Mic. 6:8. 3. In parallelism kalos has the sense of “lovely” or “pleasing” in Ps. 135:3 (cf. also 1 Macc. 4:24).

E. kalos in the NT.

[W. Grundmann, III, 536-50]

F. kalos in Christological Statements in the Early Church.

[G. Bertram, III, 550-56]


A. Greek Usage.

B. The LXX and Judaism.

C. The NT.

D. Early Christian Literature.



chrestologia. This word occurs only in Rom. 16:18, where Paul shows that the “friendly speeches and fine words” by which the readers are wooed are simply a mask for deceitful purposes.

[K. Weiss, IX, 483-92]

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