Lamb - Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words


[ 1,,G704, aren ]
a noun the nominative case of which is found only in early times, occurs in Luke 10:3. In normal usage it was replaced by arnion (No. 2), of which it is the equivalent.

[ 2,,G721, arnion ]
is a diminutive in form, but the dimunutive force is not to be pressed (See Note under No. 3). The general tendency in the vernacular was to use nouns in ---ion freely, apart from their dimunitive significance. It is used only by the Apostle John,
(a) in the plural, in the Lord's command to Peter, John 21:15, with symbolic reference to young converts;
(b) elsewhere, in the singular, in the Apocalypse, some 28 times, of Christ as the Lamb" of God, the symbolism having reference to His character and His vicarious Sacrifice, as the basis both of redemption and of Divine vengeance. He is seen in the position of sovereign glory and honor, e.g., John 7:17, which He shares equally with the Father, John 22:1, John 22:3, the center of angelic beings and of the redeemed and the object of their veneration, e.g. John 5:6, John 5:8, John 5:12-John 5:13; John 15:3, the Leader and Shepherd of His saints, e.g., John 7:17, John 14:4, the Head of his spiritual bride, e.g., John 21:9, the luminary of the heavenly and eternal city, John 21:23, the One to whom all judgement is committed, e.g., John 6:1, John 6:16; John 13:8, the Conqueror of the foes of God and His people, John 17:14; the song that celebrates the triumph of those who "gain the victory over the Beast," is the song of Moses ... and the song of the Lamb, John 15:3. His sacrifice, the efficacy of which avails for those who accept the salvation thereby provided, forms the ground of the execution of Divine wrath for the rejector, and the defier of God, John 14:10;
(c) in the description of the second "Beast," Revelation 13:11, seen in the vision "like a lamb," suggestive of his acting in the capacity of a false messiah, a travesty of the true. For the use in the Sept. See Note under No. 3.

[ 3,,G286, amnos ]
"a lamb," is used figuratively of Christ, in John 1:29, John 1:36, with the article, pointing Him out as the expected One, the One to be well known as the personal fulfilment and embodiment of all that had been indicated in the OT, the One by whose sacrifice deliverance from Divine judgment was to be obtained; in Acts 8:32 (from the Sept. of Isaiah 53:7) and 1 Peter 1:19, the absence of the article stresses the nature and character of His sacrifice as set forth in the symbolism. The reference in each case is to the lamb of God's providing, Genesis 22:8, and the Paschal lamb of God's appointment for sacrifice in Israel, e.g., Exodus 12:5, Exodus 12:14, Exodus 12:27 (cp. 1 Corinthians 5:7).

Note: The contrast between arnion and amnos does not lie in the diminutive character of the former as compared with the latter. As has been pointed out under No. 2, arnion lost its diminutive force. The contrast lies in the manner in which Christ is presented in the two respects. The use of amnos points directly to the fact, the nature and character of His sacrifice; arnion (only in the Apocalypse) presents Him, on the ground, indeed, of His sacrifice, but in His acquired majesty, dignity, honor, authority and power. In the Sept. arnion is used in Psalms 114:4, Psalms 114:6; in Jeremiah 11:19, with the adjective akakos, "innocent;" in Jeremiah 27:45, "lambs." There is nothing in these passages to suggest a contrast between a "lamb" in the general sense of the term and the diminutive; the contrast is between "lambs" and sheep. Elsewhere in the Sept. amnos is in general used some 100 times in connection with "lambs" for sacrifice.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words