Vow - Trench's New Testament Synonyms
Voweuche (G2171) Vow
proseuche (G4335) Prayer
deesis (G1162) Request
enteuxis (G1783) Intercession
eucharistia (G2169) Thanksgiving
aitema (G155) Petition
hiketeria (G2428) Supplication
Four of these words occur together in 1 Timothy 2:1, and as Flacius Illyricus justly observed: "Which group of words I far from doubt Paul brings together not by chance." I propose to consider these words and the larger group to which they belong.
In the New Testament, euche is used once to refer to a prayer (James 5:15) and twice to refer to vows (Acts 18:18; 21:23). Origen has a long discussion on the distinction between euche and proseuche and between euchesthai (G2172) and proseuchesthai (G4336), but he only notes the obvious: the concept of the vow or dedicated thing is more common in euche and euchesthai than is the concept of prayer. A more interesting treatment of the words and the difference between them may be found in Gregory of Nyssa.
Proseuche and deesis often occur together in the New Testament and in the Septuagint, and many attempts (mostly unsuccessful) have been made to distinguish them. For example, Grotius argued that they are respectively the Latin precatio and deprecatio; the first seeks to obtain good, the second to avert evil. Augustine observed that this distinction between precatio and deprecatio had almost disappeared in his day. Theodoret anticipated Grotius and explained proseuche as "requests for good things" and deesis as "supplication brought for deliverance from some distressing things." Gregory of Nazianzus said: "Think of supplication [deesin] as the request for what is lacking." This arbitrary distinction, however, is not supported by the words or their usage. Calvin more correctly understood proseuche as "prayer in general" and deesis as "prayer for particular benefits": "Proseuche is the entire genus of prayer, deesis is when a specific thing is requestedas genus and species." Bengel's distinction amounts to nearly the same thing: "Deesis (from dei [it is necessary]) is an imploring for a favor in a certain particular need; proseuche (oratio) is through any presentation of wishes and desires before God."
Although Calvin and Bengel correctly noted one point of distinction between the words, they failed to observe that proseuche is restricted to sacred uses. Proseuche always refers to prayer to God; deesis is not used with such a restriction. Fritzsche rightly argued:
He proseuche and he deesis differ as precatio [prayer] and rogatio [entreaty]. Proseuchesthai and he proseuche are sacred words, for we pray [precamur] to God; deisthai and he deesis at times are used for a sacred matter and at times for secular things, for we can ask both God and human beings.
It is the same distinction that we find between the English prayer and petition.
Enteuxis is used in the New Testament only in 1 Timothy 2:1 and 4:5, and once in the Apocrypha (2 Macc. 4:8). The Authorized Version's "intercession" is an unsatisfactory translation because of our current understanding of this word. Enteuxis does not necessarily refer to prayer in relation to others, as it now does, to a pleading that is either for them or against them (in 1 Tim. 4:5 this meaning is impossible). It certainly cannot refer only to a pleading against our enemies, as Theodoret's words ("enteuxis is an accusation against those who do wrong") imply. Hesychius defined enteuxis as "a request for vindication in behalf of someone." But as its connection with entynchanein implies, it refers to free, intimate prayer that boldly draws near to God. When the Authorized Version was made, "intercession" did not have its current limited meaning of prayer for others (see Jer. 27:18; 36:25). The Vulgate uses postulationes (demands), but Augustine preferred interpellationes (appeals) because it emphasized the parrhesia(G3954; the freedom and boldness of access) that constitutes the fundamental meaning of enteuxis. Origen also understood boldness of approach to God and asking him for some great thing (he cites Josh. 10:12) to be the fundamental concepts of enteuxis.Enteuxis might mean more than this, however, for Plato used it to refer to a possible encounter with pirates.
In the Authorized Version, eucharistia is translated "thankfulness" (Acts 24:3), "giving of thanks" (1 Cor. 14:16), "thanks" (Rev. 4:9), and "thanksgiving" (Phil. 4:6). Eucharistia is rarely used outside the New Testament, except in sacred Greek. We will not discuss the special meaning the Greek eucharistia and the English eucharist have acquired from Holy Communion, the church's most important act of thanksgiving for all the benefits she has received from God. Regarded as one manner of prayer, eucharistia expresses what should always be present in our devotions: the grateful acknowledgment of past mercies as distinct from seeking future ones. This aspect of prayer will exist in heaven (Rev. 4:9; 7:12), being larger, deeper, and fuller there, since only there will the redeemed know how much they owe to their Lord. In the very nature of things, all other forms of prayer will cease, because all other prayers will have come to fruition.
Aitema occurs twice in the New Testament in the sense of "a petition of men to God" both times in the plural (Phil. 4:6; 1 John 5:15). It is not, however, restricted to this meaning (Luke 23:24; Esther 5:7; Dan. 6:7). In a proseuche of any length there will probably be many aitemata, because they make up the several requests of the proseuche. For example, in the Lord's Prayer there are seven aitemata, though some have regarded the first three as euchai and only the last four as aitemata. Witsius stated: "A petition is a part of a prayer, so that if you call the entire Lord's Prayer a prayer, indeed its individual parts or requests are petitions."
Hiketeria, when used with rhabdos (G4464) or elaia (G1636), was originally an adjective that gradually acquired substantival power and appeared alone. Plutarch explained hiketeria as "a branch from the sacred olive bound with white wool"the olive branch encased in white wool and held up by the suppliant as a token of his character. A deprecatory letter that Antiochus Epiphanes is said to have written on his deathbed to the Jews is described as "having the position of a supplication [hiketerias]."Agrippa designated his letter to Caligula as "a writing which I offer for a supplication [hiketerias]."It is easy to trace the steps by which this symbol of supplication came to signify the supplication itself. Indeed, the only time hiketeria is used in the New Testament (Heb. 5:7), it is joined with deesis and refers to the supplication itself.
For the most part, however, these words do not refer to different kinds of prayer but to different aspects of prayer. Witsius stated:
It seems to me that one and the same thing is designated by various names for the various aspects involved. Our prayers are called deeseis inasmuch as by them we make known our needs, for deesthai [G1163] is "to stand in need"; they are proseuchai inasmuch as they contain our solemn vowsaitemata in that they bring our petitions and desiresenteuxeis in that God allows us to approach him without fear and with self-confidence and on friendly terms, for enteuxis is a conference and gathering of friends that eucharistia is an act of thanks for benefits already received is a fact too well-known to be reminded.