Greek word - (eleos G1656, eleeo G1653)
Quiz - Choose the answer that is closest to what you think MERCY is.
A - compassion
B - forgiving kindness
C - alleviation of distress
D - an expression
Problem - Outdated
KJV Example - "And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me." (Luke 18:38)
"Have mercy on me." What does that mean?
The Greek word for mercy, eleos, is a small word and does not give us a hint as to what it means.
There is a saying that may help. It defines justice, mercy, and grace. I do not know who came up with it, but it seems to be correct.
"Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you don't deserve."
In other words, when you do something bad, justice pays you back with something bad, but mercy does not pay you back with bad.
So if I am mean to you, you can show mercy to me by not being mean back to me. That is mercy.
With that in mind, the meaning of mercy in the Bible falls on one of two sides of this: a proactive side and a reactive side.
The proactive side is kindness. Being kind is mercy, especially when you are kind to people who do not deserve it, bad people, sinners.
The reactive side is forgiveness. When people are bad to you, mercy reacts by forgiving them.
Mercy involves both of these: kindness and forgiveness. So mercy is forgiving kindness.
The Greek verb of mercy, eleeo, is translated as mercy every time in the King James Version.
The Greek noun, eleos, is translated as mercy 27 of 31 times in the King James Version. It could have been translated as mercy every time.
Matthew 18:33 has eleos in it twice but it is translated differently each time (neither of which is mercy): "Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?" (Matthew 18:33 KJV)
Why didn't they just put mercy instead of compassion and instead of pity? If they had, it would have read, "Shouldest not thou also have had mercy on thy fellowservant, even as I had mercy on thee?" That would have worked. That is how it is in Greek.
I do not use the word, mercy, because it is a word that most people do not know the meaning of.
When we talk with people, we should use words that they know and understand. The Bible should do the same thing.
What does "have mercy on me" mean? It means, show forgiving kindness to me. It implies that the person saying it has done something bad and wants the person he is talking with to forgive his misdeed and be kind to him.
In the Bible, mercy is forgiving kindness.
Modern Synonym - forgiving kindness
Bible Version Tally (how other versions translate this word) - mercy (44 of 53), pity (5 of 53), help (3 of 53), deal kindly (1 of 53)
Breakthrough Version - "And he shouted, saying, 'Jesus, Son of David, show forgiving kindness to me.'" (Luke 18:38)
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