Matthew 25:34 – Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (also Heb 4:3, Eph 1:4, 1Pet 1:20, + approx. 7 others)

Following is one possible alternative, the excerpt taken from,

"A Study in the Greek: Katabole", by Howard R. Elseth here >> http://www.pinpointevangelism.com/libraryoftheologycom/writings/opentheism/Study_Of_Greek_Katabole-HowardElseth.pdf

In the biological sense, scientists speak of the catabolic (katabole) process, meaning the disintegration of food. They may also speak in terms of destructive metabolism. Catastrophe and catatonic are also related words.

katabole may be used for foundation, but the usage of katabole for foundation is quite limited.

Let us first look at The Classic Greek Dictionary by Follet Publishing Company. It has both Greek to English and English to Greek. In the English-to-Greek section under the word "foundation" about thirteen Greek words for foundation are listed. Katabole is not even listed. Neither does he list it under founder or founding, of which he lists about twelve different words.

  • It seems that the question (in the header) is being answered (in the body of the question). It is not clear to me what is expected to happen next.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 7:10
  • Is 'foundation' the best translation? I am providing AN alternative to conventional 'wisdom'. Foundation seems to be used exclusively - I'm not sure that it should be - hence the Q.
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 7:44
  • It would assist if you could indicate where your quotation begins and ends. For the sake of clarity.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 9:35
  • καταβολή Strong 2602 Thayer : 'throwing/laying down' 'founding'. Used ten times in NT. KJV translates it 'foundation' all ten times. (Source : Young's Analytical Concordance.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 9:44
  • Wouldn't that have answered the question?
    – Steve
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


I will not comment about classical Greek usage because the NT is written in Koine Greek where many words have notably different meanings.

The word καταβολή (katabolé) occurs exactly 11 times in the NT and in all cases except for one (Heb 11:11) it occurs in the phrase, καταβολῆς κόσμου = "foundation of the world". Further, the occurrence of this phrase is preceded by only one of two words as follows:

  • ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου = from/since the foundation of the world, Matt 13:35, 25:34, Luke 11:50, Heb 4:3, Rev 13:8, 18:8.
  • πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου = before the foundation of the world, John 17:24, Eph 1:4, Heb 9:26, 1 Peter 1:20.

BDAG defines καταβολή this way:

  1. the act of laying something down with the implication of providing a base for something, foundation. Readily connected with the idea of founding is the sense, beginning
  2. the sowing of seed, eg, Heb 11:11.

For this reason, some versions translate καταβολή and its associated phrase, more idiomatically as "creation of the world", eg, NIV, NLT, CEV, GNT, ISV, etc. Most of the other versions render καταβολή as "foundation".

The meaning in Heb 11:11 is well translated by (say) the NASB:

By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised.

The meanings according to Thayer's respected lexicon are almost identical to BDAG.


Is 'foundation' the best translation for Gr. 'katabole'?

In order to understand what Jesus was saying, we need to see the context of his words in the instance. The Insight on the Scriptures gives a clear explanation in the article "World" under the subheading "The founding of the world":

“The founding of the world.” This clear connection of koʹsmos with the world of mankind also aids one in understanding what is meant by “the founding of the world,” as referred to in a number of texts. These texts speak of certain things as taking place ‘from the founding of the world.’ These include the ‘shedding of the blood of the prophets’ from the time of Abel onward, a ‘kingdom prepared,’ and ‘names being written on the scroll of life.’ (Lu 11:50, 51; Mt 25:34; Re 13:8; 17:8; compare Mt 13:35; Heb 9:26.) Such things relate to human life and activity, and hence “the founding of the world” must relate to the beginning of mankind, not of the inanimate creation or the animal creation. Hebrews 4:3 shows that God’s creative works were, not started, but “finished from the founding of the world.” Since Eve was evidently the last of Jehovah’s earthly creative works, the world’s founding could not precede her.

As shown under ABEL (No. 1) and FOREKNOWLEDGE, FOREORDINATION (Foreordination of the Messiah), the Greek term (ka·ta·bo·leʹ) for “founding” can refer to the conceiving of seed in human conception. Ka·ta·bo·leʹ literally means “a throwing down [of seed]” and at Hebrews 11:11 may be rendered “conceive” (RS, NW). Its use there evidently refers to Abraham’s ‘throwing down’ human seed for the begetting of a son and Sarah’s receiving that seed so as to be fertilized.

Therefore “the founding of the world” need not be taken to mean the beginning of the creation of the material universe, nor does the expression “before the founding of the world” (Joh 17:5, 24; Eph 1:4; 1Pe 1:20) refer to a point of time prior to the creation of the material universe. Rather, these expressions evidently relate to the time when the human race was ‘founded’ through the first human pair, Adam and Eve, who, outside of Eden, began to conceive seed that could benefit from God’s provisions for deliverance from inherited sin.​—Ge 3:20-24; 4:1, 2.

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