Monday, April 2, 2007


Greek Word Pronunciations: sum-po-SEE-on // pra-SEE-ah
Strong’s Number: 4849 // 4237
Goodrich/Kohlenberger Number: 5235 // 4555
Key Verse: “He commanded them all to recline by groups on the green grass . . . and they reclined in groups of hundreds and fifties.” -- Mark 6:39, 40

Each of these two words appears only once in the New Testament -- sumposion in Mark 6:39, and prasia in Mark 6:40.

Sumposion is a compound word comprised of sun (“with”) and pino (“to drink”), denoting a “drinking together.” The word originally meant “a drinking party,” then the party of guests of any kind, without the notion of drinking. They were seated like companies at tables open at the end, so that the disciples could pass along their side and distribute the loaves.

Prasia describes a garden bed or plot (probably from the word prason, “a leek”). The red, blue, and yellow clothing suggested the appearance of flower-beds in a garden. The word was used of “ranks” of persons arranged in orderly groups. The former word, “companies,” describes the arrangement; “ranks” describes the color.

The NASB, NIV, and NRSV use groups in both verses. The NKJ translates groups and ranks. The KJV most accurately translates companies and ranks. The Life Application translates, “Jesus told the crowd to sit down, and soon colorful groups of 50 or 100 each were sitting on the green grass.” Kenneth Wuest’s expanded translation reads: “And He commanded them to make all recline in open squares like oriental diners, upon the green grass. And they reclined in squares that looked like flower-garden plots, by 100’s and by 50’s.” By commanding the guests to sit in an orderly fashion, Jesus saved his apostles time and labor in distributing the food; He insured that each one of the people should be fed; and He insured that the reality of the miracle could not be questioned.

Alfred Edersheim says, “there is one proof of the implicit faith and trust of the disciples in their Master. They had given Him account of their own scanty provision, and yet, as He bade them make the people sit down to the meal, they hesitated not to obey.” At a time when no food was in sight, when the multitude consented to arrange themselves in an orderly fashion, it was a manifestation of their faith.

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