I think Paul made a word up. I can't prove it, and I'm certain there's evidence to the contrary, but I want to believe Paul that made a word up because he needed a special word to properly describe an exceptional attribute of God! It's a word that probably caused many to think that the apostle Paul was getting carried away. But in actual fact, the big huge word hyperperisseuo reveals the heart of God in a very special way!
Perisseuo basically means "to superabound"! Not just to abound, but to superabound. To abound, according to Mr. Webster, means to be plentiful or prevalent. So to superabound must mean to be super-plentiful, super-abundant! I love the word perisseuo. Paul uses it over two dozen times in his letters. It's a fascinating study to see what Paul wants to see superabounding. He exhorted followers of Christ to superabound in love for one another (1 Thessalonians 3:12), in hope in God (Romans 15:13), in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7), in rejoicing in Jesus (Philippians 1:26) and in much, much more!
But if perisseuo means to superabound, I'm sure you can imagine what hyperperisseuo means. We're talking super-duper-abounding! Hyper-active-abounding! It literally means to abound exceedingly, beyond measure – to ultra-superabound! What a word!
But it's the context in which Paul uses this fantastic word that is really exciting. He only uses the word hyperperisseuo twice in all his letters, and in Romans 5:20, it refers to God's grace: "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound [the Greek word here means to superabound]. But where sin abounded [superabounded], grace abounded much more." Those last three English words are the one Greek word, hyperperrisseuo, or super-duper-abounded!
Paul is writing here about supernatural superabounding. We have our earthly examples of abounding, such as an apple tree laden with fruit at picking time, or a rushing waterfall during spring thaw in the mountains. And we have earthly examples of superabounding, such as our propensity to sin again and again and again (Romans 5:20). How disheartening that such a word can be applicable to the level of sin that's in our lives.
But God has a response to that sin. If sin superabounds, then the grace of God exceedingly superabounds. In other words, no matter how much we sin, God's grace superabounds beyond measure over and above that sin, however much that may be! There's simply no limit to God's grace.
So when we stumble in sin, there's no reason to let that discourage us if we're prepared to live in God's unlimited, ever-exceeding, super-duper abounding grace. Because for those who trust in God's greatest expression of grace – giving His Son to willingly die for us – God's grace will always abound far more abundantly than our sins.
No wonder Paul anticipated the objection that he appeared to be saying that it's okay to sin so that grace may abound (Romans 6:1-2). Paul rejected that suggestion without retracting his insistence that there will always be enough grace for us to be forgiven, no matter how many times we've failed. And that's because of God's hyperperisseuo grace!
© 2015 by Ken Peters
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