Greek word - (misthos G3408)
Quiz - Choose the answer that is closest to what you think REWARD is.
A - an award
B - money offered for information
C - pay for work
D - positive reinforcement
Problem - Misleading
KJV Example - "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Matthew 5:12)
Reward is reward, right? It is not hard. We all know what a reward is. Or do we?
Look at 1 Timothy 5:18. It gives a hint as to the meaning of reward in the Bible. It says, "The laborer is worthy of his reward."
I did not catch this one until I was looking through the words that are related to the Greek word for reward (misthos): misthios - hired help; misthoo - to hire; misthotos - a paid worker; misthapodotes - someone who pays wages; and misthapodosia - a payment of what is earned.
These are not about reward. They are about working and receiving pay for that work.
Remember the parable of the man who went out several times during the day to the marketplace to hire workers for his vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)? This parable has some of these related words in it. In fact, it has the Greek word for reward (misthos) too (Matthew 20:8), but it is not translated as reward in the King James Version there. It is hire.
When I saw this, I looked at what the Greek dictionaries have for misthos. Strong says pay for service. Thayer says dues paid for work. That was the same conclusion I was coming to. Strong knew that reward was not reward back in 1890 and Thayer in 1885. How did I miss it? How has everyone in Christian circles missed it?
If you look at how other Bible versions translate misthos, you will see that all of them have also missed the real meaning. They all followed the translation of the King James Version.
Reward is one of those Bible words that has changed in meaning over the centuries, and most people have missed it. They see reward and they know what a reward is so they do not look it up in a Greek dictionary. What they don't know is that the English word, reward, originally meant "repayment for some service", and that is what it means in the Bible.
Could this be the reason why many Christians miss the idea that when they get to heaven they will be paid for how they lived their earthly life? When Jesus comes, He will have their pay with Him (Revelation 22:12).
Some Christians live in a way that expects immediate pay. When they work for a church, they expect to be paid a lot of money and recognition. When they do spiritual things, they do them so that everyone will see them and think well of them. They have already received their pay (Matthew 6:1-6). God will not pay them for those things in heaven.
Other Christians realize that God is watching them and keeping track of what they do. They serve God quietly and often no one knows about it. They may get no pay on this earth, but when they get to heaven, they will be paid with eternal pay.
It is also possible to lose your pay. So we must watch how we live (1 Corinthians 3:8-15).
In the Bible, reward is pay for work.
Modern Synonym - pay
Bible Version Tally (how other versions translate this word) - reward (47 of 50), meed (1 of 50), [nothing] (2 of 50)
Breakthrough Version - "Be happy and excited because your pay in the heavenly regions is much. You see, this is how they persecuted the preachers before you." (Matthew 5:12)
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