I have a question regarding two words found in the Book of Revelation, that are both translated as "shame": Chapter 3 verse 18: συμβουλεύω σοι ἀγοράσαι παρ᾽ ἐμοῦ χρυσίον πεπυρωμένον ἐκ πυρὸς ἵνα πλουτήσῃς καὶ ἱμάτια λευκὰ ἵνα περιβάλῃ καὶ μὴ φανερωθῇ ἡ αἰσχύνη τῆς γυμνότητός σου (I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear)

Chapter 16 verse 15: Ἰδού ἔρχομαι ὡς κλέπτης μακάριος ὁ γρηγορῶν καὶ τηρῶν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ἵνα μὴ γυμνὸς περιπατῇ καὶ βλέπωσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην αὐτοῦ (Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame).

The word for the term "naked" is the same in each of the verses (γυμνὸς), but the words for the term "shame" are slightly different fron each other:
αἰσχύνη in chapter three is claimed to come from the root word αἶσχος which means "disfigurement". ἀσχημοσύνην in chapter 16 is claimed to come from a compound of ἄλφα as a negative particle and the root word σχῆμα which means visual figure, thus in conclusion means also "disfigurement".

So, both the meaning and the basic letters of these two words are suspiciously close, what brings me to ask: Are these words actually related on the linguistic base? and if not, what should we learn from the the messages of the two verses when we take into consideration the use of each word by its precise and unique meaning?

3 Answers 3


The two words in question are:

  • Rev 3:18 - αἰσχύνη (aischynē) - Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular. According to BDAG, this means either (1) a sensitivity respecting possibility of dishonour, modesty, shame, eg 2 Cor 4:2; (2) an experience of ignominy that come to someone, shame, disgrace, eg, Rev 3:18; (3) commission of something shameful, a shameful deed, eg, Jude 13.
  • Rev 16:15 - ἀσχημοσύνην (aschēmosynēn) - Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular from the root ἀσχημοσύνη. BDAG lists four meanings (1) behaviour that elicits disgrace, shameless deed, eg, Rom 1:27; (2) appearance that deviates from a standard, unbecoming appearance; (3) a state of disgrace, disgracefulness, associated with nakeness; (4) something considered too private for public exposure, nakedness, euphemism for genitals, eg, Rev 16:15.

The Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Friberg et al) says that ἀσχημοσύνην (aschēmosynēn) is "strictly shamelessness"; that brazen behaviour that would for most people, be embarrassing for the person.

W E Vine says of ἀσχημοσύνην (aschēmosynēn) that it is often used as a euphemism for αἰσχύνη (aischynē).

Thus, the two words are often used almost interchangeably. However, ἀσχημοσύνην carries the extra idea of reckless/brazen behaviour. Both words are used in very similar circumstances of not going naked but rather, being clothed by the robe of Christ's righteousness (Rev 19:8), a common metaphor for Christ's righteousness.

The difference is subtle and it is not certain whether John even intended that there be a marked difference. Nevertheless, here is my attempt to show the difference. Rev 3:18 is discussing "shame of nakedness" in the context of being lukewarm - an inadvertent exposure. By (slight) contrast, Rev 16:15 is someone who goes and walks about naked in a shameless, brazen fashion and brings ridicule and shame upon their reputation.

Both use the metaphor of the absolute requirement of being clothed with garments provided by Christ as a symbol of righteousness (right behaviour) that we cannot produce (Isa 64:6) except by the indwelling of Christ.


These words seem to be translated by the old Greek-Latin Masters (Jerome, Erasmus etc...) as different. Not certain of the root... but this is the old Vulgate & Erasmus Latin translation:

ασχημ... ....translated "filthhood" or "unseemly" (Old English by Wycliffe).

Vulgate (Lat.) = ambitiosa, turpitudo, turpo/turpis, inhonesta; Erasmus (Lat.) = fastidiosa [1Cor. 13:5], indecora [1Cor. 7:36; 12:23], foeditatem [Rom. 1:27]

αισχυν.... seems like a different animal... translating in Latin Vulgate to: erubesco, rubore, confundar, confusione.

translated "shame"... "ashamed"... "confusion" (Wycliffe)

Gebelin in his old French Greek etymology dictionary "Les Origines Grecques" seems to put them all under the same root ΑΙΣΧ, ΑΣΧ... or something to that extent (pg. 163-164).

The world may never know.

Origin Greek



I am thinking the first “shame” is for the responsive shameful deeds (such as outspoken words of wrath, strife, slander, etc) of those who will hear His rebuke and will respond negatively towards it. It is the negative response (a “disfigured” response so to speak) towards the hearing of His rebuke of them that is shameful .

Revelation 3:18-19 KJV (18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

The Lord prods the church of the Laodiceans in order to get a response (whether “hot” or “cold”) with His rebuke of them (know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked). They were “lukewarm” in their response.

They will hear the rebuke and He hopes to get a positive response (be zealous and repent) by putting on righteous acts (white raiment) towards the hearing of His voice (the rebuke) instead of showing wrath towards that rebuke.

The righteous acts towards the hearing of His voice/rebuke covers up their previous lack of righteousness (their nakedness that they were not aware of).

They put on Christ as their faith is tried in the “fire” of His rebuke that they will hear. They manifest their faith by showing forth righteousness towards Him. They hear the rebuke and pass the test of their faith as they overcome the anger towards the hearing of His rebuke and respond with righteousness instead of with words of wrath.

(19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

A negative response (their shame revealed ) will only show forth that they indeed did not have righteousness as His voice exposes what is deep in their hearts. They will respond with wrath towards His rebuke of them and so their “shame” of their nakedness (lack of righteousness) is revealed for all to see.

The other “shame” is a literal visual one as their shame is revealed in their mortal flesh as a disfigurement for all to see. It is a result of their shameful works. They “walk naked” as their negative response is continual. A “walk” is continuous and has a lasting, eventual visual effect upon their mortal body.

Revelation 16:15 KJV (15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

Whoever sows according to his flesh (shameful acts of wrath, envy, strife, contentions, etc) reaps decay (corruption) of the mortal flesh…..a visual thing that shows up eventually in the mortal bodies of those who “walk naked” as they continually sow after the flesh instead of the Spirit. They reap a visual display of their sins in their mortal bodies.

Galatians 6:6-10 KJV (6) Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. (7) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

But those who continuously sow to the Spirit (walking in the Spirit) shall reap of the Spirit life everlasting. The Spirit gives their mortal bodies life and not decay and death.

(8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (9) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (10) As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Case in point…..Daniel who did eat “pulse” (meaning “to sow” or “something sown”….as in sowing after the Spirit) and drank water (the water of life….the Spirit) compared to those who did eat of the king’s meat and drank the wine.

The children that ate the king’s meat let sin rule over them (not partaking of the fruit of the Spirit) and did drink the wine of wrath. They instead eat the food of wickedness, And wine of violence they drink. (Proverbs 4:17). They sow after the flesh and reap decay in the mortal flesh....a visual shame.

Daniel 1:12-16 KJV (12) Prove thy servants, I beseech thee, ten days; and let them give us pulse to eat, and water to drink. (13) Then let our countenances be looked upon before thee, and the countenance of the children that eat of the portion of the king's meat: and as thou seest, deal with thy servants. (14) So he consented to them in this matter, and proved them ten days

The view….the appearance…of Daniel (and those servants with him) who sowed after the Spirit (ate “pulse”) and drank in the living Water of the Spirit that taught them appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than the those who ate the portion of the king’s meat.

(15) And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat. (16) Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer. Unfortunately, the main issue is yet to be resolved: Do the two words come from a common root word, or does it just look as if they are similar?
    – Elyoeinay
    Jan 27, 2019 at 1:23
  • They do NOT come from a common root. They look similar.
    – user25930
    Jan 27, 2019 at 9:36

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