Meek Definition In The Greek: Understanding the Biblical Concept of Meekness


In the New Testament, several passages emphasize the importance of meekness as a key characteristic of a follower of Jesus Christ. Meekness, often misunderstood as weakness or submissiveness, is a term that carries a much deeper meaning in its original Greek context. By studying the Greek definition of meekness, we can gain a better understanding of this essential Christian virtue and learn how to apply it in our daily lives.

The Greek word for meekness, used in the New Testament, is “πρᾳότης” (prä-ot’-ace), which is often translated as gentleness, humility, or mildness. It is a quality that reflects a person’s ability to submit to God’s will and to show love and patience to others, even in the face of adversity. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the meaning of meekness in its Greek context, explore its significance in the teachings of Jesus, and discuss practical ways to cultivate this virtue in our own lives.

Key Takeaways

  1. Meekness is a crucial characteristic of a follower of Jesus Christ.
  2. The Greek word for meekness, “πρᾳότης,” encompasses gentleness, humility, and mildness.
  3. Meekness involves submitting to God’s will and showing love and patience to others.
  4. Jesus Christ exemplified meekness in his life and teachings.
  5. Cultivating meekness can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful Christian life.
Meek Definition In The Greek: Understanding the Biblical Concept of Meekness

Understanding the Greek Definition of Meekness

The Greek word “πρᾳότης” (prä-ot’-ace) is a multifaceted term that encompasses several related qualities, including gentleness, humility, and mildness. It implies a sense of self-control and restraint, particularly in one’s interactions with other people. A meek person is someone who is not easily provoked, even when faced with difficult circumstances or opposition.

In the context of the New Testament, meekness is closely tied to the idea of submission to God’s will. It involves recognizing our own limitations and trusting in God’s guidance and provision, rather than relying solely on our own strength or abilities. This understanding of meekness is reflected in Jesus’ own words, as He invites His followers to “take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29, NKJV).

Additionally, meekness involves a willingness to show love, patience, and understanding towards others, even when they may not deserve it. This aspect of meekness is particularly evident in Jesus’ teachings about forgiveness and loving one’s enemies (Matthew 5:43-48), as well as in His own example of enduring suffering and persecution without retaliation (1 Peter 2:23).

Meekness in Jesus’ Teachings

Jesus Christ not only exemplified meekness in His own life but also emphasized its importance in His teachings. One of the most well-known instances of this is found in the Beatitudes, where Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5, NKJV). This statement underscores the value of meekness in the eyes of God and its role in securing a place in His kingdom.

Another example of Jesus’ emphasis on meekness can be found in His instructions on how to respond to persecution and mistreatment. In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus teaches His followers not to retaliate against those who wrong them but to “turn the other cheek” and go the extra mile in demonstrating love and patience. This attitude of non-retaliation and forgiveness is a key aspect of meekness, as it reflects both submission to God’s will and a commitment to treating others with grace and mercy.

Moreover, Jesus’ teachings on humility and servanthood also highlight the importance of meekness. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus tells His disciples that true greatness in God’s kingdom comes not from seeking power or authority, but from being a servant to others. This call to embrace a humble, servant-like attitude is closely related to the concept of meekness, as it involves putting the needs of others ahead of our own and recognizing our dependence on God’s grace and guidance.

The Example of Jesus Christ

As the perfect embodiment of meekness, Jesus Christ provides us with an example to follow in our own lives. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus demonstrated meekness in both His actions and His attitudes. He consistently submitted to the Father’s will, even when it meant facing suffering and death on the cross (Luke 22:42). He also showed love, patience, and forgiveness to those who mistreated Him, including those who betrayed and crucified Him (Luke 23:34).

In addition to His own example, Jesus also pointed to other biblical figures who exemplified meekness, such as Moses. In Numbers 12:3, Moses is described as the meekest man on the face of the earth, a quality that enabled him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and endure their constant grumbling and rebellion. By pointing to such examples, Jesus underscores the importance of meekness as a characteristic of godly leadership and spiritual maturity.

Furthermore, Jesus’ resurrection and subsequent exaltation to the right hand of the Father serve as a powerful testimony to the ultimate rewards of meekness. As the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:5-11, Jesus’ humble obedience and submission to the Father’s will, even unto death, led to His being highly exalted and given a name above every name. This example serves as both an encouragement and a challenge to us as believers, as we seek to cultivate meekness in our own lives.

Cultivating Meekness in Our Lives

Recognizing the importance of meekness in the Christian life, we must be intentional in cultivating this virtue in our own hearts and minds. One practical way to do this is through regular prayer and meditation on God’s Word. As we submit ourselves to God in prayer and allow His Word to shape our thoughts and attitudes, we become more attuned to His will and more inclined to respond with humility and gentleness in our interactions with others.

Another way to cultivate meekness is by developing a habit of self-examination and repentance. As we honestly assess our own failures and shortcomings, we become more aware of our need for God’s grace and more willing to extend that grace to others. This attitude of humility and dependence on God is a key aspect of meekness and helps us to grow in spiritual maturity.

Finally, we can cultivate meekness by actively seeking opportunities to serve others and demonstrate love and patience in our relationships. As we follow Jesus’ example of servanthood and prioritize the needs of others above our own, we develop the character traits of gentleness and humility that are integral to meekness.


The biblical concept of meekness, rooted in the Greek word “πρᾳότης,” is a crucial aspect of Christian character and discipleship. By understanding the multifaceted nature of meekness, which encompasses submission to God’s will, gentleness, humility, and patience, we can better appreciate its importance in the teachings of Jesus and the lives of His followers.

As we strive to cultivate meekness in our own lives, we can look to the example of Jesus Christ, who perfectly embodied this virtue and challenged His followers to do the same. By submitting ourselves to God in prayer, engaging in self-examination, and actively seeking opportunities to serve others, we can grow in meekness and experience

The word meekness is arguably one of the most misunderstood and misconstrued expressions of the English language. People often misconstrue meekness as weakness, but this could not be further from the truth. It is believed that the concept of meekness derived from the ancient language of Greek, with the earliest form of the word being found in Homer’s Iliad. The word, though not a perfect translation, refers to a person’s demeanor that is marked by humility and gentleness.

Meekness has been discussed extensively in the Bible, and in the New Testament it is most closely associated with Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks of the “meek” when he says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus is described as a model of meekness that should be followed. He actively practiced meekness, and constantly directed his followers to do the same, even when it was not convenient. When He was tried before Pontius Pilate, Jesus humbly endured the mockery, knowing that His trial was part of God’s plan.

The Greek text that was used to interpret this verse reveals some interesting insights. Meekness (prautes) can also be translated as “gentleness,” or “emptying oneself.” The latter definition refers to putting other’s needs before one’s own, and creating a level of self-surrender and humility that allows one to trust in God’s will. It not only involves being humble, but also being able to handle trials and hardships with strength.

Meekness is incredibly valuable and is essential for the cultivation of a meaningful relationship with God. It requires great self-control, patience, and understanding, and should be our goal in life. We should emulate the example of Jesus, understanding that meekness is something to be prized and won, not something to be taken lightly. In a world that seems to increasingly value strength, dominance, and aggression, meekness has never been more important.

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