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Thumos


Acts 28:22
But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.

Paul had recently arrived in Rome and he was meeting the Jewish leaders. These leaders wanted to know Paul’s opinion, so they asked, “What do you think?”

What do you think about these people that are following a man who died? That the Romans crucified! What do you think about this guy they say was raised from the dead? These leaders had been in Rome. They weren’t in Jerusalem when Jesus was alive and teaching and ministering. Who is he and what about his followers? That’s their question, what do you think?

This is a question that every child of God should ask himself or herself every single day! 

What am I thinking!?

We need to monitor, pay attention, to all the phronema coming in, as well as, all phronema we are considering. What are you thinking? What are you dwelling upon? Did the phronema just presented to your mind line up with what God has said specifically to you in His Word?

Do you realize that almost all the phronema presented to your mind comes with thumos?

What is thumos, you ask?

Thumos is what causes people to act with varying degrees of effort and energy and commitment. Thumos gets you moving at times when you don’t even realize why you decided to act. It is the passion that moves people. It is the emotion that grabs hold of a person’s mind and sends them forth into the arena to compete, to contend, to give it their all.

Most only see thumos as anger, like a raging fire that burns fiercely but briefly, an impulsive anger. It appears 18 times in the Greek text while its word family appears a total of 57 times in the texts. When I look at all of its uses and that of its word family, I see much more than wrath or anger. I see passion, I see emotion. I see motivating forces at work.

The word emotion never occurs in the King James Version of the Bible, yet there is emotion all over the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, God’s Word is filled with emotion.

The New International Dictionary of the New Testament Theology (NIDNTT) says of thumos: “occurs from Homer onwards, meaning (a) breath, life, (b) spirit, strength, (c) soul as shown by feelings and passions, including desire and appetite, anger, the heart as the seat of emotions; and the mind as the seat of thought.”1 

The Apostle John uses thumos twice in the book of Revelation when it should have been translated passion rather than wrath as it reads in the King James Version.

Revelation 18:3
For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath [passion] of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.

Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says, “that which is moved, and which moves, vital force…takes on the sense of desire, impulse, inclination.”2   

There is more to thumos than anger; it is the feeling, the passion, the emotion that attaches itself to phronema when it is received by the nous

In Acts 2 we read about homothumadon.

Acts 2:41-47
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord [homothumadon] in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Homothumadonhomo meaning the same; thumadon, the adverbial form of thumos. Where is the anger, the fury? These believers had gladness and singleness of heart. This is emotion, this is passion for what they believed. They had an overwhelming desire to be with likeminded people who also desired to fellowship with God. Thumos can and does manifest itself as anger but there is a much greater depth to this word.

Look at Acts chapter 19.

Acts 19:24-25
24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana,3 brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

Demetrius is calling for a union meeting of silversmiths who make little statues of the goddess Diana. Paul teaching that Diana isn’t a goddess is really hurting their business and Demetrius is mad for that is how he got his “wealth.” It has always been said, hit a man in his wallet and you have his attention, positively or negatively. 

Acts 19:26-27
26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at naught; but also, that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

Just in case the financial angle isn’t enough to get these people riled up, Demetrius throws in the religious angle. Notice Demetrius is only speaking; he isn’t passing out drugs; he isn’t hypnotizing them, he is simply speaking words, phronema. But phronema is more than words, the tone of voice, the volume of his words, the specific word selection, and his body language will all help communicate. Thumos piggybacks on phronema.














We haven’t read it here but if you’ll go back and read the verses of this same chapter leading up to when Demetrius calls his meeting, what Paul was teaching had a major effect in the area so that verse 20 says, “so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.”

“Should be despised” regarding her temple is, “would become meaningless.” Her “magnificence” would be, “pulled down and destroyed.” Whom all Asia and the world “worships” is “reverence and adore.” The words Demetrius used are for the purpose of invoking as much passion as possible. 

Acts 19:28
28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath [thumos], and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

The words of Demetrius, coupled with the yelling of the crowd, promoted even more thumos that filled the minds of those who attended this meeting. Yes, their response is anger, some translate it rage. I never said anger or wrath wasn’t a part of thumos. Anger is an emotion.

Even Jesus was angry when he cleared the Temple of the money changers and when he healed the man with the withered hand. Jesus was angry because of their abuse of the Temple, the house of God and because of their hardness of their hearts concerning the Sabbath.

In Ephesus, their anger is with Paul! For Diana, there is commitment, there is adoration, there are dollar signs. What I’ve said is that there is more to it than anger. Look at the power of the emotion to get these people to move, to act. Thumos motivates!

Acts 19:29
29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel, they rushed with one accord [homothumadon] into the theatre.

Homothumadon, the same passion, the same motivation. The thumos is driving them to action. There is something else verse 29 declares, “the whole city was filled with confusion.” Why confusion? They all left the meeting in one accord. They knew they were mad at Paul and that they loved Diana, and it was hitting their wallet, so where’s the confusion?

The confusion is in the city. The city wasn’t at the meeting. Everyone in the city isn’t a silversmith. The emotion from the meeting carried over into the city and spread. Many more joined the mob, yelling and pulling these two men into the theatre.

Acts 19:30-31
30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.
31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre.

Paul is urged by others not to get in the middle of this mob scene.

Acts 19:32
32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused: and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Many got caught up in this attempt at mob rule. We’ve seen it on our own streets. But most of them had no idea why they were out there yelling, and who were these two men they had grabbed?

Acts 19:33-34
33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand and would have made his defence unto the people.
34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians.

Now they’ve grabbed another man, but he only adds to the problem because he is Jewish. Now more thumos from phronema previously in their minds kicks in and for two hours they yell about the greatness of Diana.

Romans 1:15
So, as much as in me is, I am ready [prothumos] to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Prothumospro means before combined with thumos; meaning someone is predisposed to do something. Paul’s passion, Paul’s calling was to preach the gospel of grace. There is no anger here but there is passion; there is love for the words of God; there is compassion for those who had not yet heard. Paul is motivated to declare, to preach the gospel of God’s grace to the people in Rome.

The people of the city of Ephesus were predisposed to defend their goddess Diana, to declare their love for her; and the Jews don’t and won’t worship Diana. Therefore, a predisposition against the Jewish people when it comes to Diana. But who were these men and why did we drag them before this multitude of people? So, most were confused about the purpose of their gathering.

Finally, someone with common sense steps forward and takes the microphone, so to speak.

Acts 19:35-41
35 And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter?
36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.
38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another.
39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly.
40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse.
41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

What an amazing record! It’s great to look in this concordance or that Lexicon for help in defining a Greek word, but ultimately, it’s God’s Word that will define a word for us. Thumos goes well beyond simply anger; it is passion that is rooted in emotion.

Phronema doesn’t generally arrive alone, most times it arrives with thumosThumos is not a separate area or function of the nousthumos is attached to phronema

But all that the eye sees do not have thumos attached; all that you touch, or feel does not have thumos attached; all that you hear does not have thumos. If I witness a kind act, there is thumos attached. If I witness a beautiful sunset or view an awesome panoramic sight, there is no thumos attached. When phronema has no thumos attached the nous will supply the needed thumos by association as it is bundled [sumballo] with other phronema already in the nous.

John 1:45-46
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, we have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
46 And Nathanael said unto him, can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

Nathanael had a previously mindset concerning Nazareth and therefore anyone who came from Nazareth was automatically lacking. Much like a liberal, living in California, might say, "has any good thing ever come out of Texas!"

For whatever reason, not explained in the Bible, Nathanael had a thought pattern, already established in his nous that proclaimed, nothing good is coming out of Nazareth.

The mind works by association, as demonstrated in Exodus 13, then those thoughts associated to one another are bundled together. Thus, becoming a thought pattern. The larger the thought pattern the stronger the mindset, either for or against a thing. As new phronema are introduced to the nous, if an association is established, that phronema is added to the thought pattern.

1 Thessalonians 2:17
But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire [epithumia]

Paul left Thessalonica, Acts 17. He left in the night because of persecution. Later, from Achaia, he writes to the believers in Thessalonica saying he had a great desire [epithumia] to be with them. His great love and concern for the believers in Thessalonica is laid out earlier in the same chapter.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

1 Thessalonians 2:11
As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

Again, there is nothing here related to anger. Epithumia is speaking of a desire to see these believers out of love and genuine concern and his desire to continue to teach them God’s Word. To only see thumos as impulsive anger is to miss how God uses the word thumos in His Word.

Thumos is a motivator, it is emotion which many times is attached to the phronema the senses are registering. Thumos is something we need to be aware of constantly. 

Luke 24:27
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he [Jesus -The Risen Christ] expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:32
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Phronema has thumos attached. When Jesus spoke, the thumos attached to his words and actions caused their hearts to “burn within” them; meaning they had passion, they were moved.

A child of God, with Christ in them, will also communicate thumos with the phronema we manifest. It is not enough to simply guard our minds concerning the phronema and the thumos coming into our lives; we need to be very sharp with the phronema and thumos we give to others in the world.  ________________________________________________________ 

1. https://www.preceptaustin.org/galatians_519-20#anger
2. Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume III, page 167
3. Diana is the Roman name for the Greek goddess Artemis. Artemis is the word used in the Critical 4. Greek text. Her mythology goes back to ancient Babylon and Queen Semiramis.

©  Auxano Ministry 2020
All verses quoted in this teaching are from the King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.

Mechanics of the Mind

 Abortion          Phronema plus Thumos
Terrorism                       Phronema plus Thumos
Do  you want to eat Italian or Chinese tonight?   Phronema
NOUS