BDAG defines ἐκθαμβέω like this:

ἐκθαμβέω (s. ἔκθαμβος; Orph., Arg. 1217 [tmesis]; PGrenf I 53, 18=Mitt-Wilck. I/2, 131, 18 [IV A.D.]; TestAbr B 13 p. 118, 11 [Stone p. 84]) fut. 3 sg. ἐκθαμβήσει Sir 30:9; 1 aor. pass. ἐξεθαμβήθην, in our lit. only in Mk and only pass. in active sense: to be moved to a relatively intense emotional state because of someth. causing great surprise or perplexity, be very excited Mk 9:15 (the presence of Jesus suggests possible resolution of a dispute; but consideration of Mark’s larger narrative structure leads some scholars to prefer the sense be amazed [as in Galen: CMG V 9, 2 p. 5, 12=XVI 493 K.], which lacks immediate motivation in the scene at hand); be overwhelmed, be alarmed 16:5f; be distressed w. ἀδημονεῖν 14:33.—Cp. θαμβέω in 1:27; 10:32.—DELG s.v. θάμβος. M-M. TW.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 303). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

And ἀδημονέω like this:

ἀδημονέω (Hippocr. et al.; Pla., X.; TestAbr A 7, p. 84, 9 [Stone p. 16]; Jos., Ant 15, 211; 388; POxy 298, 45 [I A.D.] λίαν ἀδημονοῦμεν χάριν τῆς θρεπτῆς Σαραποῦτος; Job 18:20 Aq.; Sym. Ps 60:3 al.) be in anxiety, be distressed, troubled w. λυπεῖσθαι Mt 26:37; w. ἐκθαμβεῖσθαι Mk 14:33; foll. by διότι because Phil 2:26.—MHarl, La Bible et les Pères, ’71, 257.—DELG. M-M.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 19). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

These words seem to describe Jesus' emotional state? If so, can we determine his emotional state with any precision from these words?

ἐκθαμβέω seems to suggest that Jesus was "shocked" while ἀδημονέω seems to suggest "perplexed". Was Jesus somehow taken by surprise by his imminent death? Or was he simply overcome with dread of the imminent ordeal? Was he questioning his strength to endure?

  • @Susan ἀγωνία sounds like our English word "agony" (indicating physical pain) but actually refers to "apprehension of mind". Most English translations incorrectly translate this as "agony". So in Luke he appears to be extremely emotionally distressed, as in Mark. biblehub.com/multi/luke/22-44.htm Just realized you posted a link... thanks.
    – user10231
    May 22, 2016 at 9:18
  • I don't understand this question. Are we trying to find the right verb for what it feels like to know you're about to be killed? My understanding is that he perspired blood, which is an actual medical condition (doctors will tell you about it today) -from the stress of knowing what was about to happen. Maybe I'm missing it but I don't see 'shocked' or 'perplexed' in any of the lexicons for either of these words, and those words imply that he wasn't aware of his purpose. He was aware of his purpose. He had absolute power. The holy spirit was with him, 100%. But he was grieving. Feb 26, 2017 at 4:56

2 Answers 2


The nuance here is that Jesus was extremely distressed (fm: ἐκθαμβέω ekthambeō) and troubled (fm: ἀδημονέω adēmoneō).

This is in accordance with his next statement:

[Mark 14:34] - καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς περίλυπός ἐστιν ἡ ψυχή μου ἕως θανάτου μείνατε ὧδε καὶ γρηγορεῖτε

My soul is very sorrowful, even to death."

Jesus was not taken by surprise by his impending death but over-taken by dread.

  • Exactly. I don't see the need for a longer answer. This is the truth. Feb 26, 2017 at 5:00

While one could pluck "shocked" and "perplexed" from the lexicons and apply them here, I don't think those are the meanings of ἐκθαμβέω and ἀδημονέω that were intended by the evangelist.


ἐκθαμβέω has as its root θαμβος, which is usually translated as "awe" or "amazement". The prefix ἐκ- makes the meaning extreme (i.e. ἔκθαμβος would be "utter amazement"). But the word can also mean "alarm" or "fright". The KJV translates ἐκθαμβέω as sore amazed in Mark 14:33 when speaking of Jesus, but translates the word as "frightened" when speaking of others; e.g.:

Mark 16:5

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

Most versions are hesitant to say that Jesus was "frightened" or "alarmed". The Latin translation of Mark 14:33 is more explicit:

Et assumit Petrum, et Jacobum, et Joannem secum: et cœpit pavere et tædere.

And he taketh Peter and James and John with him: and he began to fear and to be heavy. (Douay-Rheims)


ἀδημονέω is very rare in the Bible, and only occurs in three places (including the Septuagint), where it is translated by the KJV as "troubled" (Matthew 26:37, Mark 14:33) or "distressed" (Philippians 2:26). In classical Greek it can mean "to be sorely troubled", "to be in anguish", or "dismayed". For example:

διδόναι τὸν σμικρὸν ἐκεῖνον τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ δριμὺν καὶ δικανικόν, πάλιν αὖ τὰ ἀντίστροφα ἀποδίδωσιν: εἰλιγγιῶν τε ἀπὸ ὑψηλοῦ κρεμασθεὶς καὶ βλέπων μετέωρος ἄνωθεν ὑπὸ ἀηθείας ἀδημονῶν τε καὶ ἀπορῶν

When that man of small and sharp and pettifogging mind is compelled in his turn to give an account of all these things, then the tables are turned; dizzied by the new experience of hanging at such a height, he gazes downward from the air in dismay and perplexity

Mark's choice of ἐκθαμβέω and ἀδημονέω reflect Jesus' human nature. Matthew (26:37) described Jesus with the words ἀδημονέω and λυπέω, meaning "to be sorry" or "to grieve". One Greek commentary described the significance of these words:

He took with Him only those three disciples who had also been witnesses of His glory on Mt. Tabor [the Transfiguration: Mark 9:2-8; also Matthew 17:1-8; Luke 9:28-36], so that having seen these glorious things they might also see these sad things and understand that the Lord was also truly man, and that, like us, He felt sorrow and distress. Since He had assumed full humanness in all aspects, of course He would feel sorrow and distress in His human nature. All we humans by nature find death odious and distasteful.*

* Theophylact, Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to St. Mark (tr. from the Greek; Chrysostom Press, 1993), p.124

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