New Testament idioms

An idiom is an expression in a language which has a unique meaning which cannot be understood from the meanings of its parts (some English idioms are “It’s raining cats and dogs”, “Are you pulling my leg?” and “He flew off the handle”). Many NT Greek idioms are literal translations of Hebrew idioms. The
boundary between idioms and other figures of speech is not always clearcut in the literature on NT Greek. In many cases, what are called idioms should, technically, often be analyzed as other figures of speech, such as metonymy, euphemism, etc. Perhaps this is to be expected, since idioms often derive
from dead metaphors.

Abbreviation L&N = Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, by Louw & Nida)
(literal English translations with idiomatic meaning in parentheses):

Mt. 1:18     en gastri exousa: she having in the belly (=she was pregnant)
Mt. 3.8       poiew karpon: to make fruit (=to produce results)
Mt. 6:22     if your eye is good (=if you are generous)
Mt. 6:23     if your eye is evil (=if you are stingy)
Mt. 8:12     to skotos to exwteron: the outer darkness [=a place which is dark and removed (from where righteous ones are)]
Mt. 10:27   what you hear in your ear (=what you hear in secret)
Mt. 10:38   he who does not take his cross (=be prepared to suffer, including die)
Mt. 11:15   whoever has ears, let him hear (=everyone should listen carefully)
Mt. 22:16   you do not look at the face of men (=you do not judge on the basis of external appearances)
Mt. 23:32   Fill up the measure of your fathers! (=finish what your ancestors began)
Mk. 2:19    sons of the groom (=guests of the bridegroom)
Mk. 3.21    hoi par’ autou: those beside him (=his family)
Mk. 9:1      taste death (=die)
Lk. 16:22   kolpos Abraam: Abraham’s bosom (=be with Abraham, heaven)
Jn. 1:16      grace upon grace (=one blessing after another; blessed time after time)
Jn. 2:4        what to me and to you? (Hebraism; =what does that have to do with us?)
Jn. 9:24      did wmi doxan tw qew: give glory to God (=promise under oath to tell the truth)
Jn. 20:26   Peace be to you! (=Hello; a literal Greek translation from the most common Hebraic greeting, “shalom”)
Acts 11:22   News of this came to the ears of the church (=the church heard about it)
Acts 15:10   placing a yoke on the neck (=burdening with obligations)
Acts 17:21   doing/making time (=spending time)
Acts 18:6     Your blood be upon your heads! (=You yourselves must take the blame for it!)
Acts 18:14    to open the mouth (=to speak)
Acts 20:33    argurion kai crusion: silver and gold (=money)
Acts 22:14    to hear the voice (sound) of his mouth (=hear him speak)
Acts 26:14    pros kentron laktizein: kick against the goad (=to hurt oneself by active resistance)
Acts 28:27    they hear heavily with their ears (=be slow to understand)
Acts 28:27    hear with their ears (reflects Hebraic “cognate” construction; =to listen intently)
Rom. 1:17     from faith to faith (=faith from start to finish)
Rom. 12:9     agaph anupokritos: let love be not speaking from underneath (a mask) (=love without hypocrisy)
Rom. 12:20   you will heap burning coals on his head (=you will be very kind to him)

1 Cor. 7:35   Bbrocon epibalw: throw a bridle on (=restrict, control, impose restrictions)
1 Cor. 14:9   eis aera lalountes: talking into the air (=talking with no one understanding)
1 Cor. 15:40 swmata eporania: heavenly bodies (=celestial objects)
2 Cor. 3:18   are being transformed from glory to glory (=are becoming ever more glorious)
Col. 1:23      hupo ton ouranon: under the sky (=on earth)
2Thess 3:12 eat their own bread (=work for a living)
Heb. 8:9      I took them by the hand (=I carefully guided them)
Heb.12:28   Let us have grace (=Let us be thankful)
1 Peter 1:13 gird up the loins of your minds (=prepare your minds for action)
Jude 13        ho zofos tou skotos: the gloom or blackness of darkness (=gloomy hell)
Rev. 16:3     yuch zwhs: living soul (=living creature)
Rev. 20:10   limnh tou puros: lake of fire (=great expanse of fire, place of destruction)

Greek Idioms by Brent Hudson and Wayne Leman
This list represents work in progress. Corrections, additions, and comments are welcome. Email: