Deliver us from labor and lead us not into need

Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/DictionaryG/p/p-e-n-o-m-a-i.html


— and its most immediate consequence —

Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary


The verb πενομαι (penomai) means to toil or labor; to have to do something out of necessity rather than genuine desire. This verb stems from the same root as the English word penury, and hinges on neediness and reduction. It may be easily overlooked but nature provides lavish food for all its creatures, and entire cultures based on hunger and destitution are the creations of human civilization.

Evil hiding in plain sight

We moderns have been conditioned to believe that there is something intrinsically noble about labor, but its existence is a direct result of the fall (Genesis 3:17). In fact, labor is the first curse the Creator lands on man, and it's the second curse he exclaims altogether, right after cursing the snake (Genesis 3:14). People who glorify labor obviously never spent a sunny day slaving inside a factory, with a heart as a tomb and offspring left to be raised by an indifferent state.

Labor is an early state of death — which is declared right after labor, in Genesis 3:19 — and it's the most common form in which evil is manifested in our world. Labor gobbles up people's primary time and energy, which are resources people ought to invest in raising their children, following their hearts and seeking the Lord (the Lord is the Creator, so "seeking the Lord" means creating art and doing science and getting good at natural law).

Labor paves the way for coercion and slavery, deception and false wealth. Actual wealth equals safety, dignity and health, which is achieved from being surrounded with people who protect, respect and care for their neighbor (you) by utilizing the science they have learned. False wealth, on the other hand, comes from a false sense of safety, dignity and health, which derive from concrete walls, Lamborghinis and the medical industrial complex.

Labor is what necessitated money, what generates both excessive wealth and rampant poverty and ultimately provides the energy for entire wars. If death is the mother of all curses, then labor is its prophet.

This atrocious verb isn't used in the New Testament but from it derive the following important words:

  • The adjective πενης (penes), meaning pertaining to the working-class. This word occurs in 2 Corinthians 9:9 only, which quotes Psalm 112:9. Our adjective replaces the Hebrew noun אביון ('ebyon), which describes an "obedient person" or "order-follower." When used substantially this Greek adjective describes the class of people who are forced to work for a living (instead of working for passion, like musicians, artists, scientists, and so on). In our modern day and age this doesn't sound all that bad but in antiquity working conditions could get pretty nasty (see our article on δουλος, doulos, meaning worker). Worse off still was someone who was indeed needy but had no employ, and was forced to beg; a so-called πτωχος (ptochos). Jesus not only declared the latter blessed (Luke 6:20), but will also abolish all rule and authority (1 Corinthians 15:24), which in turn will end labor and the working class.
  • The adjective πενιχρος (penichros), meaning reduced to having to labor; of the working-class (Luke 21:2 only).
  • The noun πονος (ponos), meaning work in the sense of labor or toil (not painting or writing poetry). It describes mostly physical exertion out of necessity — and it should be remembered that most of our world's needs and shortages are created artificially. Furthermore, our world's deliberately generated shortages are explained by elaborate mythologies that have convinced otherwise reasonable people that it is perfectly acceptable that one dude can own a Lamborghini while the next dude is forced to choose between paying the rent and feeding the children.
    In the classics this noun was often used as synonym for stress, trouble or sorrow, and even disease and pain. Having to labor meant that a person had lost his God-given freedom and providence to the hoarding talents of his neighbor. A job was the same as a prison, and a mental occupation with a task given by some master was the same as being consumed with worry over an illness or enemy threat. Labor was not simply performed but suffered like a debilitating injury or degrading insult, and it was recognized as a foreshadow of death and a direct result of the original sin. In the New Testament this noun occurs only in Revelation 16:10, 16:11 and 21:4 but from it in turn derives:
    • The important adjective πονηρος (poneros), meaning pertaining to or subjected to πονος (ponos), which means labor out of necessity and the pain, sorrow and disgrace this entails. Our adjective describes an antagonistic quality or behavior that reduces and debases, or hinders and impedes someone, and this may cover anything from having to slave for money to suffering from reasonable or unreasonable fear, your or others' ignorance, your or others' addictions, weaknesses or any sort of impediment; anything that keeps you from going to where your Creator wants you to be — which in turn translates to not a booming voice from the sky but rather a quiet and familiar yearning in one's own heart.
      Our adjective describes a condition that follows the imposition of any load or burden (Matthew 23:4), which results in loss of freedom, which results in missing one's target or intention (the verb αμαρτανω, hamartano means precisely that). Its Hebrew counterpart is the familiar word שטן, satan, meaning adversary. The alternative "load" which Christ offers is not a burden that diminishes the bearer but an instrument with which freedom is extended (compare Matthew 11:29 to Colossians 2:3, John 8:32 and Galatians 5:1).
      In translations our adjective is normally translated with "evil" but that unfortunate English word is not part of a group of words that explains its core meaning (our word evil doesn't come from a common noun, which in turn comes from a common verb) and it tends to be associated with some mythical anti-god or the embodiment of evil (the "evil one"), who features prominently in pagan models. It's true that our adjective is frequently juxtaposed to the words αγαθος (agathos) and καλος (kalos), which both express virtue and pleasantness, but it must be stressed that contrary to certain pagan models, in the Bible good and its alternative are not opposite poles of some linear spectrum. The Bible is not bipolar or dualistic but monopolar. Or as YHWH says through Isaiah: "I form light and create darkness, I bring wholeness (שלום, shalom; peace) and create brokenness (רע, ra'; evil); I, YHWH , do all these things."
      In God is freedom, and impediment demonstrates the absence of freedom, but not the presence of something else. Likewise darkness is the absence of light but not the presence of something else. Stupidity too is the absence of knowledge, not the presence of something else. Hate too is the absence of love, and not the presence of something else. Our adjective πονηρος (poneros) describes the absence of freedom.
      The word Christ describes having no earthly superior, and thus being completely autonomous, responsible and free. The word antichrist describes the opposite, namely a loss of autonomy and the having of a boss. Christ ends all rule and dominion (1 Corinthians 15:24), and in his world people work directly for God; from the heart and in utter freedom, with nobody telling them what to do or how to live their lives. In Christ's world there are no slaves and there is no labor, and everybody works according to his own convictions.
      Our adjective is used 76 times in the New Testament, see full concordance, and from it derive:
      • The noun πονηρια (poneria), meaning impediment or hindrance in relation to the freedom which is available in the knowledge of Christ and the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge (after Ephesians 3:19). This difficult concept is best explained by relativity theory: if freedom equals the speed of light, then our noun is the result of mass and labor is energy absorbed. It is used 7 times; see full concordance.
      • The adjective πονηροτερος (poneroteros), which is the comparative of the adjective πονηρος (poneros): more reducing, more impeding (Matthew 12:45 and Luke 11:26 only).