Drag - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


syro (G4951) Drag
helkyo (G1670) Draw
The difference between syro and helkyo is theologically important and is best expressed in English by translating syrein as "to drag" and helkyein as "to draw." The notion of force is always present in syrein. Thus Plutarch spoke of the headlong course of a river "as dragging [syron] and carrying along everything." Consequently, where persons and not things are in question, syrein involves the notion of violence. Although the notion of force or violence may be present in helkyein, it is not necessarily so, any more than the English draw, when used to refer to mental and moral attraction, necessarily implies the use of force.
Only by keeping these differences in mind can we correct the erroneous interpretation of two doctrinally important passages in the Gospel of John. The first is John 12:32: "I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will drawall peoples [pantas helkyso] to myself." But how does a crucified and exalted Savior draw all people to himself? Certainly not by force, for the will is incapable of force, but by the divine attractions of his love. In John 6:44 Jesus said: "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me drawshim [helkyse auton]. "Those who deny theories of "irresistible grace" that portray men as machines that are dragged to God must assert that helkyse refers only to the drawing power of love, to the Father's attracting men to the Son. Had syrein been used in either of these Johannine texts, then those who believe that "irresistible grace" means forcing someone to believe against his or her will might argue that Jesus' declarations leave no room for any other interpretation than theirs. But syrein was not used in these passages.
More specifically, helkyein predominantly refers to drawing someone or something to a certain point; syrein refers to dragging something after oneself. Thus Lucian, in comparing a man to a fish that has been hooked and dragged through the water, described him as "being dragged [syromenon] and led by necessity." Frequently, syrein refers to something that is dragged or trailed on the ground, quite apart from its own will, such as a dead body. To confirm this, compare John 21:6, 11 with verse 8 of the same chapter. In verses 6 and 11, helkyein refers to drawing the net full of fish to a certain point on the ship and to drawing the net to the land. But in verse 8, where the disciples drag the net full of fish behind them through the water, syrein, not helkyein, is used. The Authorized Version maintains this distinction, as does De Wette's German translation. Neither the Vulgate nor Beza, however, distinguish the two words, which they translate by traho (draw).

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